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Jet Li: A Biography

Jet Li: A Biography

4.8 11
by James Robert Parish

Jet Li is part of a crew of new Asian stars taking Hollywood by storm. Along with Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung, Jet Li has kicked and punched his way out of the cult-film underground and into mainstream superstardom. With his performance in The One, Li becomes the first to prove his power as the top-billed draw. Jet Li, the first


Jet Li is part of a crew of new Asian stars taking Hollywood by storm. Along with Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung, Jet Li has kicked and punched his way out of the cult-film underground and into mainstream superstardom. With his performance in The One, Li becomes the first to prove his power as the top-billed draw. Jet Li, the first book published in English about the thirty-eight year-old "Gene Kelly of the action film," follows him from his days in Hong Kong as an extraordinarily successful actor in classics like Once Upon a Time in China and his overlooked work as a director and producer. Special attention is given to his Hollywood debut alongside Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 4; his recent star turns in the gangland fable Romeo Must Die and the sci-fi blockbuster The One. Jet Li looks at the actor's fiercely protected private life and explains the broad appeal of Hollywood's new Bruce Lee to fans of all ages—from Hong Kong chop-socky cultists to Blockbuster families, to the new Hollywood that has eagerly embraced him. A complete filmography of Jet Li's screen work in Hollywood and Asia as well as 30 never before published color and black-and-white photographs are included.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Once a fledgling Hong Kong actor and now a martial arts Hollywood superstar, Jet Li has been called the new Bruce Lee. Parish (Gus Van Sant) delves into the 39-year-old's life and career in this biography, analyzing his films from the little-known The Shaolin Temple to blockbusters like Lethal Weapon 4 and Romeo Must Die. Li was born in Beijing with the birth name Li Lian-jie. He began studying wushu (martial arts) at age eight and still adheres closely to traditional Chinese customs, which dictate complete respect for the martial arts school and its master. The book includes dozens of color and b&w photos. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
What Bruce Lee was to kung fu, Jet Li is to wu shu. The star of Romeo Must Die and The One was born into humble surroundings as Li Lian-jie. Small for his age, he had a gift for martial arts and stayed the course in the brutal Beijing Sports and Exercise School. He was already winning major competitions by the age of 12 and by 17 would emerge as Jet Li, Action Hero, in Chinese film. But he did not become widely known to Western audiences until he starred opposite Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon IV. Parish, the author of several books on Hollywood, does a good job of chronicling Li's early career but does not reveal much about his private life. Yet as with books on Bruce Lee, there is a big audience for this type of well-illustrated title (it includes 30 color and black-and-white photographs, never before published), especially among YAs.-Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Free Libs., Salinas, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Detailed overview of the Chinese martial-arts actor's life and career, from veteran Hollywood chronicler Parish (Gus Van Sant, 2002, etc.). Born in Beijing in 1963, Li Lian-jie was the youngest of five children raised by a single mother following her husband's early death. The cherished baby of his family, Li grew up in a sheltered, strict environment; his maturity and self-discipline were evident even as a small child. He excelled at school, showing natural charisma and leadership abilities as well as athletic grace and prowess. Placed in a program devoted to traditional Chinese martial arts, Li proved himself a bantam master, winning numerous competitions and awards. In 1974, at age 11, he became something of a national hero when he traveled to America and performed in a martial-arts exhibition at the White House. President Nixon said he hoped the boy would someday become his bodyguard; Li replied that he would never be happy protecting just one person but wanted to help safeguard all Chinese people. Tapped as a teenager for martial-arts films, he scored international success with The Shaolin Temple (1982), Once Upon a Time in China (1991), and various sequels. His major breakthrough to US stardom arrived in 1998 with Lethal Weapon 4; Romeo Must Die (2000), The One (2001), and Invincible (2001) cemented his status. Li is widely seen as the last of the Asian action-movie stars in the tradition of Bruce Lee, from an authentic martial-arts background and thus not dependent on animation or computerization to complete his fight sequences. Parish is knowledgeable about martial-arts films and does a good job of depicting Li's one-in-a-billion rise from obscurity. He includes a full filmographyas well as valuable background and commentary on many Li films not well-known here, including those made with legendary Hong Kong producer Tsui Hark, such as Dr. Wai in the Scripture With No Words (1996) and Black Mask (1996). Serviceable.

Product Details

Da Capo Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.02(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.56(d)

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Jet Li: A Biography 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jet Li a worldwide known Martial artist that was brought up in the Beijing Sports and Exercise School. Where he endured a full day of training of Martial Arts (Wu Shu). He lost his father at a young age and his mother was now the only parent to five kids. Jet Li was the youngest of a very poor family. When he was chosen to be a part of the Martial Arts program at the Beijing school he was honored, his mother wanted him to go so he could eat every meal, have cloths to wear, and have a good place to live. He went through 6 days of training a week and suffered through a foot and head injury. He train through all of it to become the best he could be. He won many competitions including Gold medals in the China National Martial Arts Competition, Medals in Chinas own Olympic Games, the Youth National Championship, ect. After he won many big championships he became a big superstar in show the show business. This book shows you how the training to become a Martial Arts champion made him to be a star across the world. The major message is that if you work hard at something you can become anything that you want to be. I did like the book but some parts in the book where not need considering it’s about Jet Li not his teacher, Wu Bin or actor Bruce Li, but overall it really inspires you to do something with your life even if you don’t have many things in your life. Jet Li still became something without money involved and came out with a lot of money after he dedicated his life to Martial arts. If you are into Martial arts it a good read for you, considering it talks about some important things about Martial arts and about someone who really benefited from the life of Martial arts. ~ Kristina
ksmith123 More than 1 year ago
Jet Li: A Biography This is probably the best book you could read if you are interested in the life of Jet Li.It explains Jet Li's life very well and shows what it took for him to become a internationally known movie star. Growing up in Beijing China made it more difficult to become internationally known since the major film industry is in the US. But with a few very successful films, he became one of the worlds best known matrial arts actors. I really liked how the book described his childhood and showed how he got into matrial arts and that he really has had an interesting life. But I didn't like how it summarized all the movies he made and how it talks about the people he worked with in the films so much. I wasn't interested in them so it didn't seem as exciting to me. If you are interested in Jet Li's life and want to know how he got into martial arts and acting this book is for you. If you have no interest in those things I would not recommend reading it. The major themes are just how he got into acting and what it took for him to become known internationally. I would give this book a 5 out of 5 star rating just because it's really good for what it is. It's called Jet Li: A biography and it is an amazing biography that any fan of Jet Li should read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Book is amazing, very interesting and goes through much detail. From his childhhod through training in martial arts. From hong kong movies to Hollywood. Overall a terriffic book, recommended to all Jet li fan's
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so surprised that a western mind can grasp the so many real details of a pure China-born celebrity. It is a difficult job to cross the cultural differences. Mr. Parish accomplished the task in a thorough and even "accurate" manner. This is an easy-to-read and hard-to-abandon biography after you start to read it. It offers lots of inside looks of each film that Jet Li made so far. Reading this book is even better than watching the film strips for "the making of " each Jet Li's movie. Most of all, Mr. Parish reveals the real side of Jet Li not just as a movie star, but as a highly-disciplined, rigorously-trained professional with high aspiration to succeed in his life. A role model indeed! A really great book for Jet Li fans or even for those that just want to know more about Chinese (Hong Kong) film industry and a little bit more about Jet Li as a personality, not only as a celebrity!
Guest More than 1 year ago
...for he not only found rare photos of Jet Li and wrote about his entire career in lucid and fascinating fashion, he also had to spell all those tricky names correctly. Parish is in a class by himself when it comes to celebrity biographies. Most impressive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you're interested in a passionate telling of the growth of Jet Li as an international film star, this book is for you. The painstaking research Parish used in all of his previous biographies is evident again in this new offering. Real insight into the personal and professional life of an emerging film star is lovingly portrayed in this book. As a bonus, the growth of the Hong Kong film industry is also chronicled. A good read for all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an engossing biography of Kung Fu artist and superstar Jet Li. Parish descibes his life from a child Wushu star to becoming one of the kingpins of Hong Kong Cinema to his spectacular debut and follow up roles in American cinema. Sympathetic to and understanding of Jet Li's qualities as a human being, Parish has provided once again a superlative biography, one that will interest everyone, not just martial arts fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this new Jet Li biography, James Robert Parish comes up with another entertaining and intelligent book about film history. Parish's narrative is as action-packed as the Li films, tracing the star's life from his days as a martial arts student to his success in Hong Kong action films and in Hollywood. Recommended for fans of Chinese and Hong Kong films, and for fans of good film writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, I was a little skeptical about reading a biography on Jet Li. While I have been a fan since the fourth Lethal Weapon movie, I wasn't sure that there was a story there behind the camera. I have not read anything about his personal life in the press. This book, however, proved that there is a story and one worth telling. This book also gave me some interesting insights into the whole martial arts genre of films. Up to this point, I've been interested mainly in seeing martial arts incorporated into mainstream films like 'Lethal Weapon' and 'The Matrix.' This movie made me want to check out Li's earlier work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a big fan of Hong Kong action films since the days they could be seen only in theaters in Chinatown. I watched the rise and fall of Bruce Lee, then welcomed Jackie Chan and the others. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Jet Li is going to be as big or bigger than any of them. And if he does, then this book will have played a major role in his success -- by telling us where Jet Li came from and where he's going.