Jet Li Biography

This Jet Li Biography will explore this highly skilled martial arts expert and renowned film actor. The influences he has had on my own personal warrior martial arts journey made him a natural inductee into the Hale Koa Martial Arts Biography collection

As I began to ponder writing a Jet Li Biography page, I began to remember first watching his performance in the martial arts movie series, Shoalin Temple, during the 1980's. 

Li was born on April 26, 1963, in Beijing China. His given name at birth was Li Lianjie. 

He started his martial art movie career as a direct result of his wushu;

  • training
  • competitions
  • demonstrations

Li began his Wushu (martial arts) training at the age of eight. The loss of his father at the age of two, prompted his mother to send him off to the Wushu Training Academy. 

Unknown to him at the time, his stepbrother, Brandon, was also studying martial arts at the Wushu Training Academy. The brothers went on in later years to compete against one and other. 

It is believed that even though Brandon had more martial arts experience, Li often was the victor of the two. 

Li is a superb athlete and performs many of his own stunts. During his early warrior martial arts training, he won fifteen gold medals and one silver medal at the Chinese Wushu Championships. 

Our Jet Li Biography wouldn't be complete with out a list of these metals:

1974 - 3 Gold Metals in the following forms:

  • Broadsword
  • Empty Hand
  • National All-Around Championship title

1975 - 1 Gold Metal and 1 Silver Medal

  • Gold was in the long fist Form
  • Silver was in Sparring

1977 - 2 Gold Metals in the following forms:

  • Long Fist
  • Broadsword

1978 - 4 Gold Metals in the following forms:

  • Broadsword
  • Empty hand

1979 - 5 Gold Metals in the following forms:

  • Long fist
  • Broadsword
  • Empty hand
  • Sparring

Jet Li Biography Fun Fact: Jet Li held the National All-Around Championship title at age of 12

Jet Li Biography - Actor

Winning the Chinese Wushu national championship five times eventually led to Li's career as a martial art movie star;

  • first in mainland China
  • then in Hong Kong
  • and now in Hollywood

Li was a huge success in Hong Kong films, while at the same time he began to established a cult following in the United States. 

He has made many movies in Hong Kong over the years. Some of the more famous of his Chinese language films include:

  • The Shaolin Temple series (1, 2 and 3)
  • The Once Upon a Time in China series
  • Fist of Legend (Chinese title: Jing Wu Ying Xiong )
  • The Fong Sai-Yuk martial arts films,

Shudan Lóngwèi, translated, "Courage of a Mouse and Power of a Dragon"

In 1995, He starred in, Shu dan long wei, (U.S. Title: High Risk or Meltdown). This was a Hong Kong action film which translated to English as "Courage of a Mouse and Power of a Dragon". 

In this martial arts action film, Li portrayed a cop whom quickly becomes disillusioned after his wife is murdered by crime-lords.

During the movie, he pairs up with a wacky sell-out actor, Frankie (played by Jacky Cheung ). The two proceed to engage in a series of violent battles in a high-rise building. 

The setting of this movie is remarkably similar to that of the Hollywood blockbuster, Die Hard, which interestingly enough, is known in China as Fo Dan Wei Long, "Courage of a tiger and power of a dragon". 

Due to the growing popularity of these Jet Li movies in the United States.

Li was able to secure a role as the lead villain in Lethal Weapon 4, which marked the first time he had ever portrayed a villain in a movie. 

This role helped him to established an even stronger presence in the hearts of American martial art movie fans. 

I had been following his Hong Kong martial art film career for years and was very excited to see him in Lethal Weapon 4. 

I have long been a fan of the Lethal Weapon movies. 

His first leading role in a Hollywood martial arts action film was in Romeo Must Die . 

Jet Li has since gone on to make several other Hollywood martial arts movies which include such titles as:

  1. Kiss of the Dragon
  2. The One
  3. Cradle 2 the Grave

In 2002 , the martial arts epic film Hero was released into the Chinese market. Hero was a commercial and critical success. It's release into US markets was delayed until the end of August 2004.

In 2005, in a departure from his usual martial arts actions films, Li's starred in the action/drama, Unleashed. It co-starred dramatic actors, Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman . 

While Li's martial arts were featured, this was a somber film with much more depth than seen in most Jet Li movies.

During 2006, Fearless (Huo Yuanjia *Chinese Title*) was released. It was promoted as Jet Li's last epic martial arts movie . Although he will continue to make movies, he stated in an interview that..

I stepped into the martial arts movie market when I was only 16. I think I have proved my ability in this field and it won't make sense for me to continue for another five or 10 years. Huo Yuanjia is a conclusion to my life as a martial arts star.

He is certainly not giving up his film career in other genres. He has teamed up with Jason Statham in a martial arts thriller releasing in Theaters August 24, 2007.

This martial arts movie was originally promoted as Rogue, but is being released by lions gate as War. Keep and eye on the Jet Li Movie Review page for my thoughts on this movie.

Jet Li and Jackie Chan have long discussed producing and starring in an action movie together, but their collaboration was never substantiated.

Then in May of 2006, the two martial art movie stars announced they would begin work on a project together.

The film is rumored to be based on characters and storylines from the Chinese folk novel Journey to the West . The film is scheduled to start filming in early 2007.

Your study of this Jet Li Biography would be complete with out reviewing Jet Li's filmography for more details on upcoming projects.

Other Interesting Jet Li Biography Tidbits:

  1. In 1974, at the age of 12, He won his first National Championship title.
  2. In 1979, he retired from professional wushu competition after a knee injury where he ripped his Anterior Crutiate Ligament (ACL) doing the jump inside kick to split.
  3. Jet Li has been married twice, once in 1987 to Beijing Wushu team leader and Shaolin Temple series co-star Huang Qiuyan. They have two children and divorced in 1990.
  4. In 1999, Li married Shangai Born and Hong Kong martial arts movie actress, Nina Li Chi. She was born Li Zhi. They also have two children, Jane (born 2000) and Jade (born 2002).
  5. Also in 1999, Jet Li’s stepbrother Brandon Soo was introduced into the Chinese martial arts movie scene.
  6. He was in Maldives when the 2004 tsunami hit. Initial reports had stated that he died in the tsunami. In actuality, he only suffered a minor injury helping his daughter to safety.
  7. Jet Li - Rise to Honor Video GameIn 2004, Jet Li was immortalized in the video game Rise To Honor.
  8. In May of 2006, Jet Li and Jackie Chan announced they would make a movie together.

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