Born In: Beijing, China
One of the most famous Asian actors in Hollywood, Jet Li is known for his impressive ‘wushu’ (Chinese martial arts) demonstration. Like other popular Asian actors, such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Li has also made his mark in the American entertainment industry. He has acted in a number of films, some of which have been critically praised. Back home in China he is a big star and is famous, not only for his acting but also for his wushu skills. Li started out as a wushu practitioner, winning a national championship at the age of 11. As he toured around the world demonstrating his skills, the lucrative offer of working in films came his way. Soon, he was seen playing lead roles in some Chinese films, before Hollywood discovered him. With his remarkable martial art exploits and excellent acting skills, he was able to make an impact in the American film industry. His rise to fame was almost instantaneous as most of his movies were blockbusters. Soon, filmmakers signed him to co-star with some great actors of Hollywood, catalyzing his journey to stardom. Jet Li is one of the few Chinese actors recognized around the world, largely because of his Hollywood movies.
Also Known As: Li Lianjie, Yangzhong
Spouse/Ex-: Nina Li Chi (m. 1999), Huang Qiuyan (m. 1987–1990)
father: Li Qingquan
mother: Zhang Feng Lan
siblings: Li Lianli, Li Lianping, Li Liansheng, Li Lianzhu
children: Jada Li, Jane Li, Si Li, Taimi Li
Born Country: China
City: Beijing, China
Jet Li was born Li Lianjie on 26 April 1963, in Beijing, China. He is the youngest of four siblings and was only two when his father passed away.
He was just eight when his family discovered his talent and passion for wushu and sent him to a school where he could learn the art.
Soon, he was part of ‘Beijing Wushu Team,’ a famous wushu team in Beijing, China. ‘Beijing Wushu Team’ participated in the ‘National Games of the People's Republic of China’ and Li won his first national championship at the age of 11.
After winning the championship, he traveled to nearly 45 countries to demonstrate wushu. In 1974, he exhibited the martial art to the then-US President Richard M. Nixon. He also received the ‘All-Around National Wushu Champion’ title of that year.
He retired from wushu at the age of 19 and made his debut in the Chinese film industry with the 1982 movie ‘Shaolin Temple.’ The movie was a success and established him as a promising actor in China.
Towards the end of the ‘80s, he moved to Hong Kong where he was signed for the 1991 movie ‘Once Upon a Time in China,’ a martial arts action film.
His Hollywood debut came with the action-thriller movie ‘Lethal Weapon 4’ in 1998. In the film, where he played the bad guy, he worked alongside actors like Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
In 2000, he collaborated with rapper DMX and singer Aaliyah for the movie ‘Romeo Must Die,’ which was a huge commercial success. The following year, he acted in ‘Kiss of the Dragon’ for which he received great critical appreciation.
In ‘Hero,’ a 2002 Chinese film, he played the protagonist, a warrior from 3rd century China. The movie was a great success, winning many prestigious awards.
In 2003, he teamed up with DMX once again for ‘Cradle 2 the Grave,’ a crime thriller, which did not make much of an impact.
After taking a break for a year, he made a comeback with the action thriller film ‘Unleashed’ in 2005, playing an important role. The film was a critical as well as a commercial success. It was followed by another blockbuster film titled ‘Fearless’ (2006), which was based on martial arts master Huo Yuanjia’s near-death experience.
In 2008, he collaborated with actor Jackie Chan for the film ‘The Forbidden Kingdom,’ which failed to impress the critics but did well at the box-office. He then played a ruthless Chinese emperor in ‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ in which his performance was praised by his fans.
His next film ‘The Expendables’ released in 2010. He starred alongside Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham among other actors. The movie was a blockbuster hit, spawning two sequels namely ‘The Expendables 2’ (2012) and ‘The Expendables 3’ (2014), both of which starred Jet Li in the main cast.
In 2011, he was seen in two Chinese movies, namely ‘The Sorcerer and the White Snake’ and ‘Flying Swords of Dragon Gate.’ Both the movies were released in 3-D to wide acclaim.
He was part of the Chinese action-comedy film ‘Badges of Fury’ in 2013 where he starred alongside Wen Zhang. Three years later, he was part of a high budget historical movie titled ‘League of Gods.’ The movie did not perform well at the box-office.
In 2017, he was part of the Chinese kung-fu short film ‘On That Night... While We Dream.’ In 2020, the actor was seen playing the emperor of China in the American action drama movie ‘Mulan.’
‘Romeo Must Die,’ in which he played the role of ‘Han Sing,’ has been one of his biggest hits till date. Debuting at No. 2 in the US, the film amassed $91,036,760 at the box-office. Even the soundtrack of the movie sold more than a million copies by the end of the year.
His next biggest hit was ‘Hero,’ which made an impressive $177,395,557 at the box-office. It is also the third-highest grossing foreign language film at the North American box-office. The film was nominated for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the 2003 ‘Academy Awards.’
The 2010-released American action movie ‘The Expendables’ remains one of Jet Li’s most important works in his acting career. The movie, which also starred Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham, grossed $274.5 million at the box-office. Its sequels ‘The Expendables 2’ and ‘The Expendables 3’ earned $315 million and $214.7 million respectively.
In 2007, he won the ‘Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award’ under the ‘Best Actor’ category for his performance in the film ‘Fearless.’
Li won the ‘Hong Kong Film Award’ for ‘Best Actor’ in 2008 for the movie ‘The Warlords,’ a Qing Dynasty story about three brothers.
In 2008, he also won the ‘Shanghai Film Critics Award’ for ‘Best Actor’ for the movie ‘The Warlords.’
Li married actress Huang Qiuyan in 1987 and the couple has two daughters, namely Si and Taimi. Li and Huang divorced in 1990.
He married actress Nina Li Chi in 1999 and the couple has two daughters.
In 2004, the actor was stranded in the Tsunami-hit Maldives, and there were rumors that he was dead. However, he was perfectly fine save for a minor injury in his foot.
In 2013, Jet Li revealed that he was suffering from hyperthyroidism from the past three years. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the heart beats at a dangerously high rate even while resting. Three years later, he announced that he had recovered from the illness.
Since January 2006, he has been a ‘philanthropic ambassador’ for the ‘Red Cross Society of China.’
In 2007, three years after the Tsunami catastrophe, he established his own charitable organization called ‘The One Foundation.’ In 2011, Li and Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma founded ‘Taiji Zen,’ a lifestyle company focusing on physical and mental fitness.
Li renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2009 and became a citizen of Singapore.
Jet Li Movies
(History, Action, Adventure)
(Drama, Thriller, Action)
(Sport, Biography, Action, Drama)
(History, Biography, Drama, Action, Adventure)
(Comedy, Action, Thriller, Drama)
(Romance, Adventure, History, Action, Biography)
(Action, History, Comedy)