Celebrity Facts:

Jet Li is a Chinese-born Singaporean actor, martial artist, film producer and retired Wushu champion. After 3 years of training with acclaimed Wushu teacher, Wu Bin, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. After retiring from competitive 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 Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002), Fist of Legend in 1994 and the first 3 films in the Once Upon A Time in China series (1991-1993), 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’s gone on to star in many international action films, including in French cinema with 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 and all 3 of The Expendables films with Sylvester Stallone.

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Jet Li’s Early Life and Martial Arts Career

Li Lianjie, better known by his stage name Jet Li, was born in Beijing, China on April 26, 1963. He was the youngest of 4 children in the family; 2 boys and 2 girls. His father passed away when he was 2 years old and the family subsequently struggled and lived in poverty. Li was 8 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 couldn’t afford to buy meat which was essential for an athlete’s physical condition. A very young Li competed against adults and was a national all-around champion from 1975 to 1979.

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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 did not learn Nanquan (Southern Fist), because his training focused only in the Northern Shaolin Styles. He has also mastered Wushu’s main weapons, such as Sanjiegun (Three Section Staff), Gùn (Staff), Dao (Broadsword), Jian (Straight Sword).

Li retired from competitive Wushu when he was only 18 due to a knee injury, but became an assistant coach of the Beijing Wushu Team for a few years. Li’s martial arts prowess would eventually contribute to his domestic and international fame.

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Jet Li’s Personal Life

In 1987, Li married Beijing Wushu Team member and Kids from Shaolin co-star, Huang Qiuyan, with whom he has two daughters, Si and Taimi. They divorced in 1990. In 1999, Li married Nina Li Chi (born Li Zhi), a Shanghai-born, Hong Kong-based actress. He has two daughters with her, Jane (born 2000) and Jada (born 2002).

Li was appointed by the Chinese Wushu Association as the “Image Ambassador of Wushu,” at the 2007 World Wushu Championships in Beijing.

In 2009, Li, who previously had US citizenship after years working in the United States, renounced his US citizenship. He was thought to have taken up Singaporean citizenship, although Singaporean authorities did not initially provide any confirmation of this. On 28 July 2009, the chairman of One Foundation (the charity fund of Li) announced that Li had indeed become a Singaporean citizen. He was said to have chosen Singapore for its education system for his two younger daughters.

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In 2009, he launched his own fitness program, Wuji. The program consists of elements of martial arts, yoga and pilates; Adidas launched a special clothing line for it that bears the initials of “JL”.

In 2013, Li revealed that he suffers from hyperthyroidism and had been dealing with the issue for the past 3 years. In 2016, he stated that he had recovered from his illness and that accepting fewer film offers was due to his charity work and not because of his health conditions.

In his free time, he likes to play badminton and table tennis, ride his bicycle, read and meditate. He collects rare Tibetan beads. He says he is never bored in his free time. Li is a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. His master is Lho Kunsang.

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Jet Li’s Acting Career

Thanks in large part to his fame brought about by his martial arts success, Li began a career as a martial arts film star in China. His on-screen debut came in 1982 with the Hong Kong Chinese film Shaolin Temple. Prior to this film, all martial arts films had been made in Hong Kong. So this was the first of its kind to be made in Mainland China. Shaolin Temple was widely successful selLing an estimated 300 million tickets at the Chinese box office, which translates to a gross of around $85 million. It also established Li as the first Mainland Chinese star of Hong Kong and later, Hollywood.

Furthermore, it spawned two sequels also starring Li Shaolin Temple 2, Kids from Shaolin in 1984 and Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin in 1986. He also starred in Fist of Legend in 1994 which is a remake of Bruce Lee’s 1972 film, Fist of Fury. And the two films Fong Sai Yuk in 1993 and Fong Sai Yuk 2 in 1993. Li made his American film debut in 1998 with the film Lethal Weapon 4. This was also the first time in his career that he played the role of a villain. In all of his previous Chinese films, he was the leading hero. Although he spoke Little English at the time, Li’s performance was widely praised. He had agreed to do Lethal Weapon 4 because the producer Joel Silver promised to give him the leading role in his next film. This is how Li starred in the film Romeo Must Die (2000), alongside late singer Aaliyah. Other American films he appeared in during this time include The One (2001) and Kiss of the Dragon (2001).

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Li returned to the Chinese market in 2002 with martial arts epic film Hero which was a huge critical and commercial success. It grossed a total of $177.4 million worldwide and became the highest-grossing motion picture in Chinese film history at the time. He has since continued on both Chinese and American projects such as Cradle 2 the Grave (2003), Unleashed (2005), Fearless (2006), War (2007), The Warlords (2007), The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), The Expendables (2010), The Expendables 2 (2012), The Expendables 3 (2014), and live action remake of Mulan (2020).

Jet Li has a net worth estimated to be $250 million according to Celebrity Net Worth.

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