Chinese action superstar Jet Li is known for being the hero in martial arts movies where he triumphs over his adversaries. However, it seems that in his personal life, the movie legend is facing an insurmountable battle with his greatest enemy yet: a crippling illnesses.
By now, you would have seen those shocking photos circulating online of the 55-year-old Jet looking like a frail 80-year-old man. His 'elderly' appearance sparked concerns over his health among fans, who took to social media to wish him a speedy recovery. The photos were reportedly taken during the star’s recent trip to a temple in Tibet. Jet, a devout Buddhist, was allegedly addressed as, ahem, “grandpa” by a bunch of school children due to his elderly appearance.
Back in 2013, the actor divulged in an interview that he was suffering a myriad of health problems, including hyperthyroidism, a heart condition and spinal problems from his many years of physically-demanding film work and on-set injuries. Jet said then that his doctors had warned him that he could “either continue making [action] films or spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair”. While he’s on medication to control the hyperthyroidism, he admitted last year that the condition keeps recurring. He also said that his injuries limited his movements and that he can no longer stand for long periods of time. Just like fellow action superstar Jackie Chan, Jet has risked life and limb for his craft’s sake. In 1986, while filming Fearless, Jet fell from a 12-foot high tower which left him with broken ribs, a serious left ankle fracture and internal injuries.
Over the last few years, Jet has devoted the bulk of his time to running his charity organisation The One Foundation which raises funds for disaster relief and children’s welfare in China. But he hasn’t completely retired from the limelight. His last film appearance was in Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma’s kung fu flick last year. Recently, Jet was cast as the emperor of China in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan, alongside Chinese stars Gong Li, Donnie Yen and Liu Yifei who will be playing the titular character.
While some are concerned that Jet’s health will affect his performance in Mulan, his manager, Steven Chasman, has said that those worries are “much ado about nothing”. In an interview with USA Today, Steven said, “We appreciate everyone’s concern. But Jet is completely fine. There’s nothing wrong with him. There’s no life-threatening illness. He’s in great shape.” Steven also added that the photo of Jet taken at the Tibetan temple had been blown out of proportion. “It’s one picture and people are making these interpretations from it. If you took a picture me at the wrong angle and wrong time of the day, I could look frail as well,” he said. He also told The Washington Post that that photo of Jet in Tibet “was just a bad photo of someone who is 55 years old”. To prove his point, Steven shared recent photos of the action film star to show that he’s doing great.
Soon after, Jet himself responded to concerns over his health. “I’m doing great and feeling great!” he wrote on his FB page. “I’m excited to share with you all a few projects I am working on in the near future.” One may recall that a few years ago, when Jet made the Forbes list as one of the highest-paid actors in Asia, he had said, “Money is not the most important thing. Your health is your life”. Looking at the actor today, that mantra rings even truer. Can someone please tell 64-year-old Jackie Chan that he should ease off doing his own risky stunts?
Scroll through the photo gallery above to see the photos that Jet’s manager shared to prove the star is “completely fine” as well as other recent photos of the star.