Where Is Jet Li Now? Martial Arts Icon's Life and Legacy

May 20, 2024

Jet Li, born on April 26, 1963, in Beijing, China, has had a remarkable journey from a young wushu prodigy to an international film star and philanthropist. Growing up in poverty after losing his father at the age of two, Li’s talent in martial arts was discovered at age eight during a school summer course. Trained under renowned coaches Li Junfeng and Wu Bin, who provided financial support to his family, Jet Li quickly rose in the ranks of wushu, becoming the national champion from 1975 to 1979.

"Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and Jet Li, famous martial arts star" by Robert Scoble is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Martial Arts Achievements

Li's mastery in various wushu styles such as changquan and fanziquan, along with his expertise in main weapons like Sanjiagun, Gun, Dao, and Jian, earned him national and international recognition. As part of the Chinese delegation, he performed in the U.S. for President Richard Nixon, showcasing his exceptional skills.

Transition to Acting

Chinese and Hong Kong Films

Jet Li debuted in the film "Shaolin Temple" (1982), which garnered massive success in China. He went on to star in critically acclaimed films like "Hero" (2002), "Fist of Legend" (1994), and the "Once Upon a Time in China" series. He directed his first film, "Born to Defence," in 1986. His contributions were pivotal in reviving wushu in Hong Kong cinema in the 1990s and boosting the popularity of wuxia films internationally.

Hollywood Breakthrough

Li's Hollywood debut came with "Lethal Weapon 4" (1998), where he played a villain, followed by his first leading role in "Romeo Must Die" (2000). He further enriched his international filmography with roles in "The One" (2001), "Kiss of the Dragon" (2001), "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" (2008), and "The Expendables" series.

Other Notable Films

Li also worked on French films like "Kiss of the Dragon" and "Unleashed," and had a memorable role in Disney’s live-action "Mulan" (2020) as the Emperor of China. His ability to blend his martial arts prowess with his acting skills has left an indelible mark on both Eastern and Western cinema.

Philanthropy

One Foundation

Founded in 2007, Li’s One Foundation focuses on disaster relief, environmental protection, medical treatment, education, and poverty alleviation. The foundation has been actively involved in recovery efforts for numerous natural disasters.

Taiji Zen

Jet Li co-founded Taiji Zen, an online health and wellness program, with entrepreneur Jack Ma. In 2010, Li became the first Goodwill Ambassador of the International Red Cross, further solidifying his commitment to humanitarian efforts.

Personal Life

Li’s personal life has seen its shares of ups and downs. His first marriage to Huang Qiuyan brought him two daughters. After their divorce, he married Nina Li Chi in 1999 and had two more daughters. Li narrowly survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, sustaining only a minor foot injury, an event that profoundly affected him. In 2009, he gave up his U.S. citizenship and became a Singaporean citizen for the benefit of his daughters’ education.

Views and Philosophies

Martial Arts and Wushu

Jet Li emphasizes the significance of inner harmony over power or speed in martial arts. He has been critical of modern wushu championships, stating that they often lack individuality. Li believes in peaceful conflict resolution and strives for realistic portrayals in his films.

Buddhism and Philosophy on Fame

A follower of Tibetan Buddhism, Li believes that the difficulties of everyday life can be surmounted through religious philosophies. He differentiates between the fictional violence of films and the need for peaceful solutions in real life.

Jet Li's journey is a rich tapestry of martial arts achievements, cinematic accomplishments, and philanthropic endeavors. His teachings and beliefs about martial arts reflect a profound philosophical insight that transcends physical prowess, making him an enduring icon in the world of cinema and beyond.

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