Profile: Jet Li

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Jet Li was a martial art world champion several times. He started training at the Beijing martial art academy at age eight, and won five gold medals in the Chinese championships in the acrobatic martial art wushu when he was 11; his prize was aJet Li trip to Washington D.C. to meet President Richard Nixon. In his teens, he was already a national coach, and before he was 20, he had starred in his first movie: Shaolin Temple (1979), which started the 1980s Kung-Fu boom in mainland China. He first attempt at directing, “Born to Defend”(1986), met with failure however this did not hamper his success. He is the biggest Asian movie star after Jackie Chan, though Jet Li seems to have a greater range of acting ability playing dramatic and comedic roles equally. He relocated to Hong Kong, where he was the biggest star of the early 1990s Kung-Fu boom as well.

Jet Li has announced his newest movie Fearless will be the last martial arts film he makes. He wants to concentrate on other matters in the future because of his concern that the violence in martial arts movies sends the wrong message. Jet Li wants to make more philosophical family oriented movies, one of the projects he apparently wants to focus on is a documentary about Buddhism. This change in Jet Li must be in part due to true love and wife, Nina Li Chi. Of his wife Jet Li said “You realize, `I put myself out there. I can give up my fame and success, give up my status, give up my money. I’m even willing to die for her.’ You realize this is love”. Proof of his devotion came in 2000, when originally cast in the role of the character Li Mu Bai in Ang Lee’s martial arts blockbuster Wo hu cang long (2000) (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) he turned it down because of a promise to his wife Nina Li Chi that he would not work while she was pregnant. Jet & wife Nina Li Chi became parents to a 6 lb. 13 oz. daughter, Jane. [19 April 2000]. Jet Li himself related this during an appearance on the Tonight Show promoting “Kiss of the Dragon”.

Jet Li escaped the serious injury on December 26th, 2004 when he escaped the Tsunami following a 9.0 earthquake in theJet Li Indian Ocean. Jet Li did injure his foot while escaping with his four year old daughter while vacationing in Maldives. The two were in the lobby of their hotel when the wave came ashore. Scooping up his daughter and running for higher ground, a piece of furniture hit his foot, causing the injury.

“Fearless,” is the story of Chinese martial arts pioneer Huo Yuanjia. His films include more than two dozen Chinese action movies along with violent Hollywood productions such as “Lethal Weapon 4”, “Romeo Must Die”, “Kiss of the Dragon” and “Unleashed.” Li said he started in martial arts because he wasn’t considered physically suited for other sports. “The teacher assigned everyone a sport and picked the tall students for basketball and the fast ones for athletics,” he said. “Since I wasn’t tall enough or fast enough, I could only do martial arts.” Li, 42, said he began taking a greater interest in spiritual matters in his mid-30s when he realized “it wasn’t enough to have a strong body, you had to have a strong soul.” A practicing Buddhist, Li said he now divides his time between charity work and show business. Most recently he took part in a lecture series organized by the Chinese Red Cross to promote psychological health among students. He studies English with a tutor for 4 hours a day.

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