Jet Li — The Quiet Fist

“You can beat me up, but don’t touch my hair, I will kill you!”

A martial arts prodigy from a young age. He successfully transferred his sporting prowess in to a career in cinema. There isn’t too much to say about Jet Li. His name is better known in the West than some of his Chinese peers but I’d think most people would have a hard time picking him out of a line up.

He doesn’t court controversy and has no trade mark moves like the groin aching splits that JCVD does. However he does do something unique amongst martial arts actors: he changes his fighting style to fit with the emotion and temperament of his characters. Basically he acts with his fists.

He keeps his head down and turns out movies every few years. He tends to have a penchant for Chinese period movies (Fearless, Hero). After his first Hollywood role in Lethal Weapon 4 (playing a bad guy) he went on to make some kickass but critically panned movies. The best of which were a combination of French style and Chinese stunt co-ordination.

This is what I consider the best of his “western” movies.

War (AKA Rogue Assassin)

This film has it all. Yakuza, CIA, FBI, Triads, gun fights, sword fights, car chases, motorbike chases and more.

The only thing it’s missing is a coherent plot.

Oh yeah, guess what? JASON STATHAM is in it!

Kiss Of The Dragon

A screenplay by Luc Besson and co-starring Bridgette Fonda. This movie is about a fish out of water Chinese special agent who makes a promise to an American junkie-tart in Paris.

Then ensues various forms of set piece fighting co-ordinated by the inimitable Corey Yuen. The fight scenes in this film are memorable, especially the one against the weird twins. This movie holds up on all sides: acting, fighting, storyline, direction.

Also the character has this ability to stick pins in people and paralyse them. I’m not sure what’s going on there but that gives us a tenuous link to the film’s title.

Bonus points: it stars Cyril Raffaelli who is one of the progenitors of parkour in film.

The Expendables

Ah ha, how does anyone describe this film? An ensemble piece of nostalgic 80’s hyper violent action that somehow manages to work despite it’s ludicrous bromances and over the top use of CGI squibs.

I figure it works because a) it’s very violent, b) it’s hilarious and c) Jet Li is awesome in it. In particular the relationship between Lundgren and Li’s characters make this movie thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

Guess what else? JASON STATHAM. Do you need any other reason to watch it?

Unleashed (AKA Danny The Dog)

Written by Luc Besson, directed by a French man, co-starring Bob Hoskins as an evil cockney loan shark and Morgan Freeman as a blind piano tuner. This film starts out with Bob Hoskins getting Li to kick the absolute crap out of anyone that owes Hoskins money, then descends in to pit fighting, followed by a pause for some emotional development.

The film then ends with an insane fight scene where Li rampages across multiple buildings annihilating millions of bad guys.

Bonus points for the sound track by Massive Attack.

One thing I don’t get about this film is that it’s set in Scotland but there are no Scottish people in it although that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment.

The One

A Hong-Kong directed, Hollywood made movie co-starring JASON STATHAM. This film is best described as Highlander meets the multiverse. Evil Jet Li has travelled to 123 alternate universes and killed all the other Jet Li’s taking on their power. Leaving just two Jet Li’s to fight it out.

The film is highly stylised and has a touch of the Matrix about it. There are plenty of fight scenes and cool special effects bits. The film cumulates in a spectacular fight between good Li and evil Li. The story line doesn’t pay off to my full satisfaction but the movie is thoroughly enjoyable otherwise.

Also this film is rated PG-13 which at first seems ludicrous but if you watch closely you’ll see some of the extreme lengths the film makers went to to get that rating. Specifically there is a scene at the start where evil Jet Li uses a cop as a human shield against a barrage of bullets. Pay attention and you’ll see all the bullets bounce off the cop’s bullet proof vest.

Out of all those movies the strongest is Kiss Of The Dragon and the weakest by far is War. Thanks for reading and enjoy this random picture of Mark Zuckerberg and Jet Li:

This image is randomly on Li’s Wikipedia page.