Fans are worried for the health of international martial arts and action star Jet Li after a recent photo of him looking old and frail surfaced on social media.
The photo sparked serious concerns for Li’s health because it’s a far cry from the athletic and agile physique which we came to know and love.
Known for his lightning-fast martial arts skills (mainly in wushu) he became a household name in and outside of Asia thanks to his litany of action films.
Li revealed back in 2013 he had been suffering from hyperthyroidism, as well as a heart condition, which hasn’t been helped by a series of on-set-injuries sustained throughout his career, The Hollywood Reporter reports.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition which occurs due to excessive production of the thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland.
Symptoms include irritability, muscle weakness, trouble sleeping, a fast heartbeat, heat intolerance, diarrhoea, enlargement of the thyroid and weight loss.
During a recent trip to Tibet, the Hero and Kiss of The Dragon star had his picture taken and he appeared to be in a frail state.
Once considered a successor to the legendary Bruce Lee (along with iconic action stars Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan – with whom he co-starred in The Forbidden Kingdom), this latest image has various media outlets in Asia, such as Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, comparing The Expendables star to someone who is 20 or 30 years older than he looks, despite being 55 years old.
According to THR, after revealing his health issues Li’s doctor released a statement on behalf of the man himself vowing to: …
either continue making [action] films or spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Unfortunately, he was forced to retire from filmmaking after a lifetime of onset injuries to his legs and spine started to take a toll on his body. He even admitted he could no longer stand for long periods of time without hunching his back.
However, in July 2016, he claimed his decision to take a step back from making action films wasn’t a result of his failing health but to focus more on the charity he set up, The One Foundation, focused on disaster relief and child welfare in China, after holidaying in the Maldives with his family when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit in 2004.
Li first began his career competing in the National Wushu Championships in Beijing.
According to Li during a trip to the US with the Chinese national team, President Richard Nixon asked him to become his personal bodyguard.
However, Li told the then-Head of State he would rather ‘defend my one billion Chinese countrymen’ than an ‘individual’.
After retiring from competition at the age of 19 he quickly transitioned to film, making a name for himself in China and Hong Kong.
He was part of a golden age of martial arts films alongside the likes of Yen, Chan, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li.
Li became a household name in Western cinema after playing a villain in Lethal Weapon 4, from there we went on to star in a number of classic martial arts films such as Hero, Kiss of The Dragon, The One and Unleashed.
Despite his retirement from film, IMDb has Jet Li listed to star in the upcoming Disney live-remake of Mulan, which will reportedly be released in the UK on March 27, 2020.