Jet Li: 30 Years And Counting
Other names: 李连杰
Jet Li Lian Jie
Birth date: 26/4/1963
Workplace: Hong Kong, USA
1991:Once Upon A Time In China
1993:Tai Chi Master
1993:Fong Sai Yuk
1994:Fist Of Legend
Jet Li has been making movies now for 30 years, this time in 1982, he was at the beginning of his journey starring in a movie called The Shaolin Temple (1982), which would make him an over night superstar. Thousands of people back then would travel for miles to get a chance to see Jet training, with his lightening fast punches and flexibility.
Li was eight when his talent for wushu was noticed at a summer course at school, and he began his practice there. Li participated in the sport of wushu in the non-sparring event. He began on the Beijing Wushu Team, an athletic group organized to perform martial arts forms during the All China Games. He was coached by renowned coaches Li Junfeng and Wu Bin, who made extra efforts to help him develop. Wu Bin even bought food for Li’s family because they could not afford to buy meat, which was essential for the good physical condition of an athlete. As a member of the team, he received his training and went on to win fifteen gold medals and one silver medal in Chinese wushu championships, where, despite his young age, he competed against adults (Amazing).
“My winning first place caused quite a sensation, because I was so young. I was 12 years old, and the other two medalists were in their mid- to late twenties. During the awards ceremony, as I stood on the top step of the podium, I was still shorter than the 2nd and 3rd place medalists. It must have been quite a sight.” — (Jet Li, China’s Internet Celebrity)
Jet also went on to perform for the president at the time of America Richard Nixon, on the White House lawn. Jet is also a master in several styles of wushu, especially Changquan (Northern Longfist Style) and Fanziquan (Tumbling fist). He has also studied other arts including Baguazhang (Eight trigram palm), Taijiquan (Supreme ultimate fist), Xingyiquan (Shape intent fist), Zuiquan (Drunken fist), Yingzhaoquan (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 studied some of wushu’s main weapons, such Sanjiegun (Three section staff), Gun (staff), Dao (Broadsword), Jian (Straight sword) and many more.
The fame gained by his sports winnings led to a career as a martial arts film star, beginning in mainland China and then continuing into Hong Kong. Li acquired his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce. They likened his career to an aircraft, which likewise “takes-off” as quickly, so they placed the name Jet Li on the movie posters. Soon everybody was calling him by this new name, which was also based on the nickname, “Jet,” given to him as a young student, due to his speed and grace when training with the Beijing Wushu team. He made his debut with the 1982 film Shaolin Temple.
This would later have 2 more sequels and im my opinion are still some of the best movies to show Jet as his peak. In the late 80′s, Jet went on to make a few movies, Born To Defend and Dragon Fight, none really stood out as great movies, so Jet then teamed up with director Tsui hark for the movie The Master, set in America. Although the movie had it’s moments, we were still yet to see Jet top anything like he did in the film Shaolin Temple, that was until we once again joined forces with Tsui Hark and made the movie Once Upon A Time In China, based on the legendary hero “Wong Fei Hung”.
This movie would be the big break Jet was looking for, making him now one of the best Kung Fu stars in Asia, the movie was choreographed by Lau Kar Wing and Yuen Woo Ping and had a solid cast that consisted of Yuen Biao, Rosamund Kwan, Kent Cheng, Yen Shi Kwan and many more. In the next few years, we should see Jet star in more and more Kung Fu movies, such as Tai Chi Master, Once Upon A Time In China 2 and 3, Last Hero In China and also two Fong Sai Yuk movies. It was clear Jet was great at playing real life heroes, taking on both Wong Fei Hung and Fong Sai Yuk in different ways that worked perfectly, with Wong the more serious character and Fong the more happy go lucky type.
1994 would mark a great year for Jet, although the movie i am talking about didn’t do that well at the box office, it is still one of the best kung fu movies ever made which was Fist Of Legend. The movie is a remake of the Bruce Lee version titled “Fist Of Fury”, seeing Jet take on the Japanese and put faith back into his country.
n 1998, he made his American film debut in Lethal Weapon 4 which also marked the first time he had ever played a villain in a film. He agreed to do Lethal Weapon 4 after the producer Joel Silver promised to give him the leading role in his next film, Romeo Must Die (2000), alongside late singer Aaliyah. The two movies to come after that were also both international based movies, The One and Kiss Of The Dragon. Kiss Of The Dragon is one of my favorite movies of jet’s from his overseas films, i didn’t really enjoy The One, to much CGI.
In 2002, a movie role came along that Jet had been waiting years to find, playing the character of “Nameless” in the movie “Hero”. This movie was directed by Zhang Yimou (His first ever Kung Fu style movie) and had a fantastic cast, seeing Donnie yen return to tkae on Jet, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and Tony leung Chiu Wai. The movie was a box office hit, with a total worldwide box office gross was US $177,394,432.
The two movies that came after Hero were, Cradle 2 The Grave and Unleashed, Unleashed being my favorite of the two, showing a more brutal side to jet, delivering high energy fight scenes just like a dog being let of it’s leash ready to battle. In 2005, Jet would return to his roots and star in a traditional kung fu movie called Fearless, playing the role of Huo Yuanjia, a famous Chinese martial artist who challenged foreign fighters in highly publicized events, restoring pride and nationalism to China at a time when Western imperialism and Japanese manipulation were eroding the country during the last few years before the birth of the Republic of China.
This was supposed to be Jets last ever Kung Fu film, a point also made in the film’s television promotions and other publicity. The next movie was The Warlords, a movie that i really enjoy with great battle scenes, very well acted and a great cast. This movie would see Jet play a more vicious role, playing a guy obsessed with being in power and also to be feared by all around him which leads to a brutal end. In 2008, we would finally get chance to see two of Asia’s greatest stars team up for the first time, Jet Li and Jackie Chan, this movie was called The Forbidden Kingdom. It had been talked about for many years, but the right script never happened for them to join up until this movie which was also choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping. They also got the chance to fight each other, with Jackie reprising his famous Drunken Boxing against Jet’s Crane style and others they mix into the scene.
In the past 2 years, Jet as made 5 movies, Oceans Heaven, would show a different side to Jet, in his first real acting role with no kung fu. Jet Li also was quoted saying “Nowadays everyone is making blockbusters. Making a seven million Chinese yuan (1 million US dollars) movie requires a lot of sincerity,” Li told reporters in Hong Kong. “This movie is about sincerity. It shows that in this day and age that filmmakers are willing to do something for society.” The father’s selfless love for his son touched Li, a father of four children himself. “I cried a lot when reading the script,” Li .
“I hope everyone can examine what is the most important relationship in life – the relationship between parent and child,” he said. “I met some autistic children last year when I was doing charity work. When I read the script, I cried, I hope to express gratitude to all the parents in the world through the film.” Jet Li did not take any pay for the film.
He returned to America to make the big blockbuster The Expendable, with such a huge cast, you can see why jet had to do it. The movie got mixed reviews, saying there was to much CGI, to much shaky camera work, so you couldn’t really see the fights and to little jet Li. 2011 brought us The Sorcerer And The White Snake and Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate, both filmed in 3D and both also getting mixed reviews.
We will get to see Jet back in action this August, starring in The Expendables 2. There have been rumors that his character might be killed off in the movie, but this as yet to really be confirmed. The latest movie he is doing is titled The One Detective, which is to be a Action, drama, Mystery style movie with a release date of possibly December 2012. I am sure we will get to see Jet in another classic kung fu movie, with his last Fearless, being a great watch. I hope to see him make one last Shaolin Temple movie or at least get to star with jackie Chan one more time in a traditional kung fu flick.
Please enjoy the tribute video i made, thanks.