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Jet Li
Jet Li 2006.jpg
Jet Li at the premiere of Fearless
Background information
Born April 26, 1963 (1963-04-26) (age 58)
Beijing, China
Nationality Singaporean (since 2009)
American (2003-2009)
Chinese (until 2003)
  • Actor
  • martial artist
  • director
  • film producer
  • author
Huang Qiuyan
(m. 1987; div. 1990)

Nina Li Chi (m. 1999)
Children 4

Li Lianjie (born 26 April 1963), better known by his stage name Jet Li, is a Chinese film actor, film producer, martial artist, and retired Wushu champion who was born in Beijing. He is a naturalized Singaporean citizen.

After three years of training with Wu Bin, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. After retiring from Wushu at age 19, he went on to win great acclaim in China as an actor making his debut with the film Shaolin Temple (1982). He went on to star in many critically acclaimed martial arts epic films, most notably as the lead in director Zhang Yimou's 2002 Hero, Fist of Legend which is the best acclaimed Li movie by Rotten Tomatoes, and the Once Upon a Time in China series, in which he portrayed folk hero Wong Fei-hung.

Li's first role in a non-Chinese film was as a villain in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), and his first leading role in a Hollywood film was as Han Sing in Romeo Must Die (2000). He has gone on to star in many action films, including in French cinema with the Luc Besson-produced films Kiss of the Dragon (2001) and Unleashed (2005). He co-starred in The One (2001) and War (2007) with Jason Statham, The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) with Jackie Chan, all three of The Expendables films with Sylvester Stallone, and as the title character villain in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008).

Early life and martial arts career

10th all china games floor
A typical wushu competition

Li was born in Beijing, China and was the youngest of two boys and two girls. When he was two years old, his father died and his family then lived in poverty.

Li was eight when his talent for Wushu was noticed as he practiced at a school summer course. He then attended a non-sparring wushu event, followed by joining the Beijing Wushu Team which did a martial art display at the All China Games. Renowned coaches Li Junfeng and Wu Bin, made extra efforts to help the talented boy develop. Wu Bin even bought food for Li's family because they could not afford to buy meat, which was essential for an athletes physical condition. A very young Li competed against adults, in the Chinese Wushu Championships and won fifteen gold medals and one silver medal.

According to Li, once, as a child, when the Chinese National Wushu Team went to perform for President Richard Nixon in the United States, he was asked by Nixon to be his personal bodyguard. Li replied, "I don't want to protect any individual. When I grow up, I want to defend my one billion Chinese countrymen!"

Li is a master of several styles of wushu, especially Chángquán (Northern Longfist Style) and Fānziquán (Tumbling fist). He has also studied other arts including Baguazhang (Eight trigram palm), Taijiquan (Supreme ultimate fist), Xing Yi Quan (Shape intent fist), Zui Quan (Drunken fist), Ying Zhao Quan (Eagle claw fist) and Tanglangquan (Praying mantis fist). He has also mastered wushu's main weapons, such as Sanjiegun (Three Section Staff), Gùn, Dao (Broadsword), Jian (Straight Sword).

Acting career


The fame gained by his sports winnings led to a career as a martial arts film star, beginning in mainland China and then continuing into Hong Kong. Li acquired his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce. They likened his career to an aircraft, which likewise "takes-off" as quickly, so they placed the name Jet Li on the movie posters. Soon everybody was calling him by this new name, which was also based on the nickname, "Jet," given to him as a young student, due to his speed and grace when training with the Beijing Wushu team. He made his debut with the 1982 film Shaolin Temple.

Considering US box office statistics, the most successful Jet Li American film as of August 2010 is Lethal Weapon 4, which grossed over 130 million dollars domestically, while the second is The Expendables with over 103 million dollars. Hero is the third most successful foreign language film in the US, and one of the best critically acclaimed Li movies. Fearless is the sixth most successful foreign language film of all times in the US.


Year English Title Chinese Title Role Notes
1982 Shaolin Temple 少林寺 Jueh Yuan
1984 Kids From Shaolin 少林小子 San Lung
1986 Born to Defense 中華英雄 Jet Jet Li's directorial debut
a.k.a. Born to Defend (Australia)
a.k.a. Born to Defense (USA)
Also director
Martial Arts of Shaolin 南北少林 Zhi-ming a.k.a. Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin
1989 Dragon Fight 龍在天涯 Jimmy Lee a.k.a. Defector
The Master 龍行天下 Jet
1991 Once Upon a Time in China 黃飛鴻 Wong Fei-hung
1992 Once Upon a Time in China II 黃飛鴻之二男兒當自强 Wong Fei-hung
Swordsman II 笑傲江湖之東方不敗 Ling-wu Chung a.k.a. The Legend of the Swordsman (USA)
1993 Tai Chi Master 太極張三豐 Zhang Sanfeng a.k.a. Twin Warriors (USA)
Also producer
Fong Sai-yuk 方世玉 Fong Sai-yuk a.k.a. The Legend
Also producer
Fong Sai-yuk II 方世玉續集 Fong Sai-yuk
a.k.a. The Legend II
Kung Fu Cult Master 倚天屠龍記之魔教教主 Cheung Mo-kei a.k.a. The Evil Cult (USA)
a.k.a. Lord of the Wu Tang
a.k.a. Kung Fu Master
Also producer
Last Hero in China 黃飛鴻之鐵雞斗蜈蚣 Wong Fei-hung a.k.a. Claws of Steel
a.k.a. Deadly China Hero
Also producer
Once Upon a Time in China III 黃飛鴻之三:獅王争霸 Wong Fei-hung a.k.a. The Invincible Shaolin
1994 The Bodyguard from Beijing 中南海保鑣 Allan Hui Ching-yeung / John Chang a.k.a. The Defender
a.k.a. Zhong Nan Hai bao biao
Also producer
Fist of Legend 精武英雄 Chen Zhen Also producer
The New Legend of Shaolin 洪熙官之少林五祖 Hung Hei-kwun a.k.a. Legend of the Red Dragon
Also producer
1995 High Risk 鼠胆龍威 Kit Li a.k.a. Meltdown
My Father Is a Hero 給爸爸的信 Kung Wei a.k.a. The Enforcer
a.k.a. Letter to Daddy
1996 Black Mask 黑俠 Michael / Simon / Tsui Chik / Black Mask Released in 1999 in the United States
Dr. Wai in "The Scripture with No Words" 冒險王 Chow Si-kit a.k.a. Adventure King
a.k.a. The Scripture With No Words
1997 Once Upon a Time in China and America 黃飛鴻之西域雄獅 Wong Fei-hung a.k.a. Once Upon a Time in China IV
1998 Hitman 殺手之王 Fu a.k.a. The Hitman
a.k.a. The Contract Killer
Lethal Weapon 4 致命武器4 Wah Sing-ku
2000 Romeo Must Die 致命羅密歐 Han Sing
2001 The One 最後一強 Gabe Law / Gabriel Yulaw / Lawless
Kiss of the Dragon 龍之吻 Liu Jian Also associate producer
2002 Hero 英雄 Nameless Released in 2004 in the United States
2003 Cradle 2 the Grave 同盜一擊 Su
2005 Unleashed Danny a.k.a. Danny the Dog
Also producer
2006 Fearless 霍元甲 Huo Yuanjia a.k.a. Legend of a Fighter (Hong Kong)
Also producer and presenter
2007 The Warlords 投名狀 Pang Qingyun
War Rogue, a.k.a. Victor Shaw a.k.a. Rogue Assassin or Rogue
2008 The Forbidden Kingdom 功夫之王 Sun Wukong the Monkey King / Silent Monk
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Emperor Han
2009 The Founding of a Republic 建國大業 Chen Shaokuan a.k.a. Jian Guo Da Ye (lit. The Great Cause of China's Foundation)
a.k.a. Founding of the Nation
a.k.a. Lofty Ambitions of Nation Building
2010 Ocean Heaven 海洋天堂 Sam Wong
The Expendables Yin Yang
2011 The Sorcerer and the White Snake 白蛇傳說之法海 Reverend Fahai
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 龍門飛甲 Chow Wai-on
2012 The Expendables 2 Yin Yang
2013 Badges of Fury 不二神探 Huang Feihong
2014 The Expendables 3 Yin Yang Fifth time partnered with Jason Statham, second time opposite Mel Gibson since Lethal Weapon 4
2016 League of Gods 封神榜 Jiang Ziya
2017 Gong Shou Dao 功守道 Old Monk Producer

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