Li Lianjie (born April 26, 1963), better known by his stage name Jet Li, is a Chinese martial artist, actor, wushu champion, and international film star who has currently taken up citizenship and resides in Singapore. After three years of intensive training with Wu Bin, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. After retiring from wushu at age 17, he went on to win great acclaim in China as an actor making his debut with the film Shaolin Temple (1982). He went on to star in many critically acclaimed martial arts epic films, most notably the Once Upon A Time In China series, in which he portrayed folk hero Wong Fei Hung. His first role in a Hollywood film was as a villain in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), but his first Hollywood film leading role was in Romeo Must Die (2000). He has gone on to star in many Hollywood action films, most recently starring beside Jackie Chan in The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), also with Mark Dacascos in Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) and as the titular villain in The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor (2008) opposite Brendan Fraser. He is set to star in the upcoming film The Expendables.
Li was born Li Lianjie in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Li's father died when he was two, leaving the family to struggle on its own, with Li being the youngest of two boys and two girls.
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 his wushu on the Beijing Wushu Team, an athletic group organized to perform martial arts forms during the All China Games. As a member of the team, he received wushu training and went on to win fifteen gold medals and one silver medal in Chinese wushu championships. According to Li, once, as a child, when the Chinese National Wushu Team went to perform for President Richard Nixon in the United States, he was asked by Nixon to be his personal bodyguard. Li replied, "I don't want to protect any individual. When I grow up, I want to defend my one billion Chinese countrymen!" which earned him much respect in his homeland.