Art & Entertainment

Happy Birthday Jet Li: Five Films That Got The Actor International Acclaim

From Jet Li's highest-grossing film 'Hero' to his Hollywood debut 'Lethal Weapon 4,' here are five films that got the actor international acclaim.

Actor Jet Li

Chinese actor Jet Li, who is known for his lethal action chops in films turns 59 today. In 1982, the well-known actor made his debut in the film 'Shaolin Temple.' He went on to feature in a number of critically acclaimed martial arts epic films, including Zhang Yimou's 'Hero' and the first three films in the 'Once Upon a Time in China trilogy,' in which he played folk hero Wong Fei-hung.

Jet Li has been an internationally recognised star for numerous years now, his films that generally depict fight sequences and killer action are loved by fans and audiences all around the world. From Jet Li's highest-grossing film 'Hero' to his Hollywood debut 'Lethal Weapon 4,' here are five films that got the actor international acclaim.


This film was a commercial and critical triumph, and at the time of its release, it was the highest-grossing motion picture in Chinese cinema history. It was also the first Chinese-language film to top the box office in the United States. It portrays the narrative of an unnamed warrior (Jet Li) who plans to murder the ruler of Qin in order to avenge his town's inhabitants. 'Hero' was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film, but lost to the film 'Nowhere in Africa.'

'Kiss of the Dragon' 

'Kiss of the Dragon' is a French action thriller directed by Chris Nahon that was released in 2001. The story follows Chinese spy Liu Siu-jian, who is dispatched to Paris to capture crime lord Mr. Big and is assisted by Inspector Jean-Pierre Richard. However, Richard, the actual mastermind, assassinates Mr. Big and blames it on Liu. The film is also notable because majority of the action sequences in 'Kiss of the Dragon' did not require CGI or wire work; just two scenes required CGI augmentation and one scene required wire work.

'The Forbidden Kingdom' 

The Forbidden Kingdom is a 2008 film directed by Rob Minkoff and written by John Fusco. The film also marked the first big-screen team-up of Jet Li and his fellow kung fu icon Jackie Chan.  The plot revolves around Jason Tripitikas, a teen martial arts film enthusiast who is miraculously teleported into a war-torn ancient Chinese town by a golden staff. Soon after, he encounters drunken immortal warrior Lu Yan, who tells him about how the ruthless Jade Warlord duped the legendary Monkey King and turned him into stone, and how a prophesied Seeker is meant to set him free.

'Lethal Weapon 4'

Richard Donner directed and produced 'Lethal Weapon 4', a 1998 cop action film starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, and Jet Li. With Li as its villain and Chris Rock on board to bring some extra humour as Detective Lee Butters alongside the always amusing Joe Pesci, 'Lethal Weapon 4' featured the series' biggest and greatest ensemble to date. The film was a major box office hit, bringing Jet Li much-deserved international fame.

'Romeo Must Die'

After making his Hollywood debut in 1998 with the action film 'Lethal Weapon 4,' Jet Li's first English-language leading role came in 2000's Romeo Must Die. The film narrates the tale of Han Sing, a former cop who departs Hong Kong after discovering that his younger brother has been murdered in Oakland. There, he finds his father working with a black real estate developer to acquire homes for a businessman. He then immediately begins investigating the cause of his brother's death.

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