Li Lian-Jie (Jet Li) was born in Beijing, China on April 26, 1963. He began to learn the fighting art of wu shu when he was eight. At age eleven, he made his first trip to the United States, to perform with a wu shu troupe for President Nixon at the White House. He went on to win five gold medals in the national championships for 5 consecutive years, from 1974 to 1979.
Before his twentieth birthday, Li was asked by a Hong Kong production company to star as a fighting priest in "Shaolin Temple". It was a kung-fu movie shot on location at the authentic temple in Hunan Province. The picture was banned in Taiwan, but was well received in Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of Asia. For this movie and others that followed, he was paid a small state subsidy.
In 1988, Li was granted a two-year exit permit from the Chinese government, and settled in San Francisco, with a Chinese actress, whom he later married and divorced. They also had two children together, which is a subject he does not talk about. Though Li has an American green card, he never leaned to speak English.
After his exit permit expired, he moved to Hong Kong and signed with Golden Harvest, there his career took off when in 1991 he was cast as Wong Fei-Hung in "Once upon a Time in China". Li was thrust into superstardom, but the charismatic actor was left with a bitter feeling that he was still grossly underpaid. He attempted to resolve his money woes with Golden Harvest. After numerous attempts he parted company with his manager and hired a new one, his name was Jim Choi.
Choi was of great help to Li. He helped him obtain a betterrelationship with the People's Republic of China and was in his corner when Li threatened to sue Golden Harvest. Subsequently, Golden Harvest voluntarily released Li from his contract.
Sadly, their relationship would come to an abrupt halt. On April 16, 1992 (10 days before Li's 29th birthday) Choi was gunned down in his Kowloon office building and was killed. Rumors flew about the reason for his execution, and the most notable one was that a Hong Kong triad wanted to use Li in a movie, and Choi refused to lend Li out. Choi, had a questionable past, because he himself was a former triad.
Michelle Yeoh, his co-star in the movie "Tai Chi Master" once said that she was constantly terrified that one of his blows would accidentally connect with her. Li stands only 5' 6" but is built like a powerhouse.
Above information from: Hong Kong Babylon by Fredric Dannen and Barry Long (1997)
Jet Li Filmogoraphy
Romeo Must Die (1999)
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
King of Killers (AKA Killer Storm) (1998)
Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997)
Black Mask (1996)
The Scripture With No Words (1996)
High Risk (1995)
My Father is a Hero (1995)
Fist of Legend (1994)
The Bodyguard from Beijing (1994)
The New Legend of Shaolin (1994)
The Kung Fu Cult Master (1993)
Tai Chi Master (1993)
Fong Sai Yuk (1993)
Fong Sai Yuk II (1993)
The Last Hero in China (1993)
Swordsman II (1992)
Once Upon a Time in China 1 (1990)
Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1991)
Once Upon a Time in China 3 (1992)
The Master (1989)
Dragon Fight (1988)
Born to Defence (1986)
Martial Arts of Shaolin (1986)
Kids from Shaolin (1984)
Shaolin Temple (1982)
JET LI TID BITS
Other Links to Fantastic Jet Li Pages (with information about "Romeo Must Die", "Black Mask" and more)
The Official Jet Li
Jet Li Lian Jie
The Jet Li Homepage
The Jet Li Temple
Kung Fu Kid Bows To Jet Li
Jet Li Info
Jet Li in Person
The Official Black Mask Website
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