World-renowned martial arts master and international film star JET LI (Emperor) burst into Hollywood in 1998 with his first English-language film appearance in Lethal Weapon 4. After completing more than 25 films in Hong Kong and China, Li took this first role as a villain opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Richard Donner film.
Li currently stars in the Lionsgate Films family adventure film The Forbidden Kingdom, in which he plays an ancient Chinese martial arts warrior with fellow martial arts expert Jackie Chan.
Li was most recently seen in the Lionsgate action-packed thriller War, alongside co-star Jason Statham, which marked their second collaboration. In 2006, he starred in the Focus Features biopic Fearless, directed by Ronny Yu. Li played Chinese martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia, who became the most famous fighter in all of China at the turn of the 20th century.
Under the direction of Louis Leterrier, Li filmed Unleashed, co-starring Morgan Freeman, which was released by Focus Features in January 2005. Li also starred in the Warner Bros. film Cradle 2 the Grave, opposite DMX. Joel Silver produced the film.
Li and his family were directly affected by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which greatly damaged South Asia. This natural disaster motivated Li to create The Jet Li One Foundation Project, a China-based charity organization, in April of 2007. The foundation aims to help people around the world from its headquarters in Beijing.
The One Foundation promotes “1 person + 1 dollar + 1 month = 1 big family.” By pooling together individual donations, the One Foundation mobilizes the power of the masses to extend a helping hand to the most vulnerable members of our global family.
In 2002, Li starred in an Academy Award® nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Hero which was filmed entirely on location in Asia through the early months of 2002
Using the assassination attempt of the historical figure Qin Shi Huang Di, the First Emperor of China, as a backdrop, the film explores the Chinese concept of what makes someone a hero. Directed by the renowned director Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers), the film also stars Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The film grossed more than $175 million worldwide.
Also in 2002, Li starred in Revolution Studios’ action-adventure film The One, directed by James Wong and co-starring Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham. In a stunning dual role, Li portrayed Gabriel Yulaw, a police officer confronted with a sinister form of himself. He then went on to star in the 20th Century Fox film Kiss of the Dragon, for which he also served as a producer. Li played a foreigner on assignment in Paris who became involved in a deadly conspiracy. The film co-starred Bridget Fonda and Tchéky Karyo and was directed by Chris Nahon and written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
Li garnered rave reviews for his performance in the Warner Bros. box-office success Romeo Must Die. In this modern-day Romeo and Juliet, Li played Romeo (Han Sing) to singer Aaliyah’s Juliet (Trish O’Day). Produced by Joel Silver, the film blended hip-hop with kung fu and created a new type of action picture.
Li teamed with Mel Gibson’s Icon Entertainment in November of 2001 to produce a martial-arts television series titled Invincible. Featuring the art of wushu (the general Chinese term for martial arts), the film allowed American audiences to witness spectacularly choreographed action sequences in the Hong Kong filmmaking style.
Born in Beijing, Li began studying the art of wushu and was enrolled in the Beijing Amateur Sports School at the age of eight. After three years of extensive training, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing wushu team. As part of a world tour in 1974, he had the honor of performing a two-man fight for President Nixon on the White House lawn. For the next four years, he remained the All-Around National Wushu Champion of China.
Shortly after retiring from the sport at the age of 17, he was offered many starring roles and subsequently began on his film career with director Xinyan Zhang for The Shaolin Temple. Upon its release, Li was propelled into instant movie stardom and the film was an enormous success that spawned two sequels. This led to Li completing 25 successful Asian films before coming to America.
Li currently resides in Singapore with his family.