Li Lian was born on April 26th, 1963 in Bejing. His father passed away at the age of two, leaving Li being the youngest of two boys and two girls. Li began studying Wushu at the age of 8. After three years of extensive training, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. He was selected by the government to represent the country in over 45 countries by performing martial arts at various state functions. The most famous, in terms of history, was his 1974 performance at the Rose Garden of the White House for President Richard Nixon, after he had just reopened American diplomatic relations with China.
Jet spent the next five years in the All-Around National Wushu Champion of China. At the age of 17, Li retired from the sport and his film career kicked off with director Chang Hsin Yen in the film titled Shaolin Temple. The movie was an overnight success and took hk$16 million and was no.4 at the box office, it made only 1 million less than Jackie Chan’s Dragon Lord film.
Li acquired his screen name in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce. They likened his career to an aircraft, which also”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.
Jet would continue his work in the film industry by teaming up with Tsui Hark for the Once Upon a Time in China films. Jet also starred in Fist of Legend, a famous remake of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury. Li continued working in the 90′s before switching focus to the Hollywood market. He began by appearing in Lethal Weapon 4, but it was a non-speaking role. Jet’s first speaking role came in Romeo Must Die, where he acted along with Aaliyah.
In 2006, Jet announced that Fearless would be his final Wushu film. Although he has starred in some minor action roles, Jet has begun to shift his interest to more philosophical and dramatic roles. He also created the One Foundation, a charity organization for those in need, after his near-death experience in the 2004 tsunami.
Visit Jet Li’s official site at http://www.jetli.com/ for his essays and writings on Wushu and many other topics.