Today, April 26, is Jet Li’s 50th birthday.
In case you’d forgotten, Jet Li is awesome. Some reasons why:
- By age 19, he has become the national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. Awesome.
- His father died when he was two years old, leaving him the man of the house, and he succeeded. Awesome.
- According to legend, Richard Nixon once asked a very young Li to become his personal bodyguard, to which Li replied: “I don’t want to protect any individual. When I grow up, I want to defend my one billion Chinese countrymen!” Awesome.
- Li was in the Maldives when the catastrophic 2004 tsunami hit, and he guided his four-year-old daughter and her nanny to safety. Double-awesome.
To commemorate the Li’s 50th birthday, here are some of his most awesome fight scenes.
8. Once Upon a Time in China (against Donnie Yen)
Drinking game: take a sip every time a piece of bamboo shatters. You’ll be drunk after 10 seconds, dead after 20.
Jet Li is “Danny the Dog,” and when he’s let off his leash, he mauls. Not much anti-gravity wire work here — just a lot of crunchy, squishy, bone-bashing badassedness. Until, of course, he learns to love thanks to Morgan Freeman.
Swinging swords. Backflips. A final chest-collapsing death-punch. Perfect.
5. The Shaolin Temple
Not technically a fight scene, since there’s no opponent, but it’s Jet Li showing off his mad skills in his very first feature film (at just 19 years old).
4. The Expendables 2
With so many iconic action stars to cram into a single movie, Jet Li’s fight scenes are fairly brief in the Expendables flicks. But what they lack in duration they make up for in brutality. He actually fires a gun in this one, before just throwing the gun at a dude’s face and beating everyone else up with pots and pans.
3. My Father is a Hero
Jet Li with police nightsticks. Watch out! And keep your mouth closed.
Hero was a fairly artsy-fartsy kung fu flick, but at least it was martial artsy-fartsy.
1. The Scripture with No Words
If the Three Stooges had black belts, they might have made this film. The rules of gravity do not apply, but sumo wrestlers still jiggle hilariously. Also: ninjas. Hell yeah.