Li Lianjie, best known by his stage name Jet Li, is a former Wushu champion from China who also works as a martial artist and film producer. He has Singaporean citizenship by naturalization.
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Li Lianjie, also known by his stage name Jet Li, was born on April 26, 1963, in Beijing, China. The family included two boys and two daughters, making him the youngest of the four kids. When he was two years old, his father passed away, and the family subsequently struggled and lived in poverty.
When he was eight years old, his aptitude for Wushu was discovered while he was enrolled in a summer session at school. Later, he became a member of the Beijing Wushu Team and began receiving instruction from renowned instructors Li Junfeng and Wu Bin. Since Li’s family could not afford meat, Wu Bin would even assist them by purchasing food. He competed in the Chinese Wushu Championships when he was not even a teenager, and he took home fifteen gold medals and one silver.
Li is a master of many Wushu forms, with a focus on Chángquán (Northern Longfist Style) and Fnziquán (Tumbling Fist). He has also studied 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, among other disciplines and styles (Praying Mantis Fist).
Jet Li started in China as a martial arts movie star. In 1982, he made his on-screen debut in the Hong Kong-Chinese movie “Shaolin Temple.” This movie was the first of its sort to be produced in mainland China; up until this point, all martial arts movies had been produced in Hong Kong. At the Chinese box office, “Shaolin Temple” is thought to have sold 300 million tickets, generating an estimated US$85 million in revenue. Li became the first mainland Chinese star in Hong Kong and eventually Hollywood as a result of this. Shaolin Temple 2: Kids from Shaolin (1984) and Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin are two sequels that also starred Li (1986).
His “Once Upon a Time in China” television series, about the fabled Chinese folk hero Master Wong Fei Hung, is one of his other renowned Chinese productions.
Jet Li only appeared in the first three films of this series, as well as the last one, which included a total of six movies and a television show that was all broadcast between 1991 and 1997. Additionally, he appeared in the film “Fong Sai-yuk” (1993) and “Fong Sai-yuk II,” both remakes of Bruce Lee’s 1972 film “Fist of Fury,” as well as “Fist of Legend” (1994).
Jet Li had his first English-language part in Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998, costarring with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a villain. He moved to Los Angeles specifically for the movie and undertook rigorous language instruction to get ready for his part as a Chinese crime lord. Moviegoers loved this action movie, especially the moments featuring Jet Li.
Jet Li collaborated with the musicians Aaliyah and DMX on the hip-hop and martial arts adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo Must Die (2000). Li and Aaliyah were two star-crossed lovers from rival crime dynasties in their acting roles. The movie had a successful box office run, taking in about $100 million.
Jet Li and Bridget Fonda co-starred in the Luc Besson film Kiss of the Dragon in 2001. He contributed to the creation of the film’s plot, which centers on an intelligence officer seeking to clear his record by using a prostitute (played by Fonda).
A reviewer for The New York Times commended some scenes in the movie “his action sequences are like an oil fire, spilling from one room into the next and lighting the interiors with heat and wreckage. Mr. Li and his fisticuffs choreographer, Corey Yuen, have set a new standard for action here.”
Li appeared in the confusing science fiction story The One that same year. He portrayed the two lead characters, a gullible California sheriff and a merciless killer who traverses parallel universes to kill off other versions of himself. Critics criticized the movie for having a convoluted plot and poor acting. In the Chinese historical drama Hero, in which Li portrayed a warrior in third-century China, he next collaborated with director Yimou Zhang.
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The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film after its 2002 release in China. After that, he collaborated once more with DMX on the 2003 criminal drama Cradle 2 the Grave, which was met with mixed reviews and lackluster reception from audiences.
The Maldives tsunami struck while Jet Li was on holiday there the next year. He had reportedly perished in the accident, according to numerous reports. He managed to lead his 4-year-old daughter to safety, but only with a slight foot injury.
Li then appeared in Unleashed, a safe movie, and returned to the big screen. He portrayed a man who served as a crime family’s hired killer. After his collar was taken off, the character was taught to act violently. Jet Li trained with an acting coach to get ready for the part. “We visited the pound to observe the wild dogs to observe whether they are hungry or angry. I felt it since I spent a few nights on location with nothing but bread and water “Li confessed to the magazine Muscle & Fitness. The movie had a strong opening weekend at the box office, debuting at No. 3 overall.
With the release of “Lethal Weapon 4” in 1998, Li made his American film debut. Additionally, he portrayed the villain for the first time in his career; in all of his prior Chinese films, he had played the main hero. Li’s performance was well-received even though he didn’t speak any English at the time. Because “Lethal Weapon 4” producer Joel Silver had promised to offer him the major role in his upcoming movie, he had agreed to do it. This is how Li and the late singer Aaliyah co-starred in the 2000 movie “Romeo Must Die.” During this time, he also starred in the American movies “The One” (2001) and “Kiss of the Dragon” (2001).
Li played renowned Chinese martial arts instructor Huo Yuanjia in his subsequent movie, Fearless (2006). The movie recounts the genuine events surrounding Yuanjia’s near-death encounter, the heartbreaking death of his family, and his glorious win over foreign competitors in a martial arts competition. It was “emotionally intense and visually spectacular,” according to critic Leonard Maltin. The movie’s popularity among viewers also helped it finish second at the box office during its first weekend.
Jet Li later took the role of Rogue, a deadly assassin, in War (2007). Li plays a man in the movie who is being sought by the partner of an FBI agent he killed. The movie received poor reviews, and only $22 million was made at the box office. Li featured in Peter Chan’s Chinese film The Warlords that same year.
Jet Li had the chance to collaborate with Jackie Chan, another prominent martial arts performer, in the 2008 film The Forbidden Kingdom. But the movie turned out to be a letdown. According to critic Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The movie also adequately answers the question of why Chan and Li haven’t yet done a movie together in their collective 55-year careers: Chan is a much better actor. As for the fighting, and the movie, it’s pretty much a draw.”
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, a Hollywood action sequel, was more successful for Li (2008). Li portrayed a cruel Chinese emperor who was buried with 10,000 terra cotta warriors and awakened from his endless slumber by a teenage explorer in this most recent entry in The Mummy series (Luke Ford). The adventurer’s parents, played by Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello, assist him in his fight against the evil ruler. Despite receiving negative reviews, the movie did well with action moviegoers. At the box office, it made more than $100 million.
Jet Li appeared in two more movies as she continued to alternate between Hollywood productions and Chinese language movies. He played the lead role in the Chinese father-son drama Ocean Paradise. The Expendables, a 2010 movie starring Sylvester Stallone about mercenaries who band together to destroy a South American dictator, also featured Li in a minor part. Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, wrestler Steven Austin, and ultimate fighter Randy Couture were also cast members.
He went on to play the lead role in the ensuing films of the well-known franchise in 2012 and 2014. In the Mulan live-action adaptation from 2020, he also played the emperor.
Jet Li represents the Red Cross as an advocate for philanthropic causes. Together with the Red Cross Society of China, he founded the Jet Li One Foundation. The group works in a variety of fields and offers Chinese citizens catastrophe aid.
Jet Li Awards and Achievements
Jet Li took home the Shanghai Film Critics Awards in 2008. He received a 2007 People’s Choice Award nomination. He has received two Hundred Flowers Award nominations and many MTV Movie Award nominations. Li took home awards from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and Hong Kong Films in 2007. He received the Golden Horse Film Festival Award in 1995.
Huang Qiuyan, a fellow member of the Beijing Wushu Team and a co-star in “Kids from Shaolin,” was Li’s first wife, whom he wed in 1987 before divorcing her in 1990. Si and Taimi are their two daughters who they share. In 1999, he wed the actress Nina Li Chi, with whom he also had two children, Jane and Jada.
He was a citizen of China up until 2003, and from that year until 2009, he was a citizen of the United States, which he acquired after years of residing and working there. But in 2009, when he became a citizen of Singapore, he gave up his US citizenship. According to reports, he decided to become a Singaporean to better provide for his two younger daughters’ educational needs.
Since January 2006, Li has represented the Red Cross Society of China as a “philanthropic ambassador.” The International Red Cross then named him as their first Good Will Ambassador in September 2010. Additionally, he founded his non-profit organization called The One Foundation following a terrifying incident in the Maldives in which he nearly perished after the tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004.
Together with the Red Cross, this organization supports international disaster relief efforts and has assisted with recovery work following disasters like the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the 2009 Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan. It is noteworthy for being the first Chinese NGO to be independent of the Chinese government and all other government-sponsored institutions.
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Jet Li Net Worth
The highest-paid Singaporean actor in the world, Jet Li has an estimated net worth of $250 million (1855 Crore INR). The most well-known Singaporean actor (Jet Li) is estimated to have a net worth of around $265 million in 2022 by a variety of online publications (Wikipedia, Forbes, IMDB).