Total Recall: Jet Li's Best-Reviewed Films

We celebrate the best work of the famed wushu champ and Mummy star.

This week, with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor hitting theaters, we thought it would be a great time to take a close look at the filmography of star Jet Li, one of the most dynamic and successful martial arts performers of recent years.


Born in Beijing, Li Lianjie was wushu champion at an absurdly young age (he was dubbed "Jet" because of his quickness and power). Retiring from competition at 17, he utilized his formidable martial arts skills in a series of epic films based upon Chinese legends. But it isn't just his athletic grace and power that has impressed audiences; Li exudes a hard-to-quantify stoicism and intensity in his performances that lend a greater level of emotional heft than your typical martial arts master. Although his Western films haven't enjoyed the level of popularity he received in Hong Kong, he's still a draw, as this year's The Forbidden Kingdom proves. Without further ado, we present Li's best-reviewed films.




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10. Once Upon a Time in China 3
(1992, 67 percent)


The third time was definitely not the charm for this venerable series. Li is back as Wong Fei Hung, and this time he's embroiled in a whole mess of drama: he's participating in a brutal kung fu competition, he has to stop an assassination attempt on the president, and he has to keep a whole lotta gangsters from ripping him to shreds. Critics found OUATIC 3 to be a serious letdown after the dazzling inventiveness of the first two films, and some of that might have been because of on-set tensions; Li and director Tsui Hark, who had helmed the first two installments, acrimoniously parted ways after III (they've since made up). Still, even at the ebb of their collaboration, Hark's visual flair and Li's athletic prowess elevate III above most martial arts fare. The film has a "strong blend of humor, action and drama," wrote Doug Pratt of DVDLaser.com.

Comments

IrreducibleKoan

Sean Pak

"Fist Of Legend" is indeed a kickas* movie. I've lost count how many times I've seen it. Kudos for posting such a great clip from it too.

Jul 30 - 04:58 PM

rockster11

Matt Gamble

Lethal Weapon 4 didnt even make the top 10???????? BS....

Jul 30 - 07:42 PM

Deathrow_nzl

Jason Chan

Thats Cause Lethal Weapon V sucks & anyway Jet Li only has a small part in that movie as the badguy.
Probably the only reason he did that movie was to get into American movies.

Agreed Fist of Legend is definitely one of his best movies

Jul 31 - 04:23 AM

tfortier

Thierry Fortier

we should not count american movies on his tomatometer!!

Jul 30 - 11:50 PM

sayagila

egidio gaudi mulia

agreed, i didn't like jet li's movies since he moved to hollywood.

Aug 4 - 05:15 AM

IrreducibleKoan

Sean Pak

Lethal Weapon 4 only has a 55%. RT is just going strictly by the tomatometer, rockster.

Jul 31 - 03:20 AM

gigaherc

Michal Jakubowski

Consiedring martial arts material there's no use in comparing such pictures as Fist of Legend and Lethal Weapon V.
Nice article, I really like Jet, but as we can all see he's aging and personally I don't see anyone to take his place as a martial arts greatest movie performer.

Jul 31 - 03:56 AM

xenogears

J'rome Holmes II

He is aging but he still has his speed and ability. As far as a replacement, Have you seen Ong Bak or the Protecter? Tony Jaa is the future of martial arts action movies.

Jul 31 - 05:17 AM

RETyrant

Chase Chandler

Um... there is no Lethal Weapon V. V means 5 and IV means 4. I assume you were talking about Li's American debut in Lethal Weapon 4 which could also be written as Lethal Weapon IV.

Aug 4 - 01:22 PM

Deathrow_nzl

Jason Chan

Thats Cause Lethal Weapon V sucks & anyway Jet Li only has a small part in that movie as the badguy.
Probably the only reason he did that movie was to get into American movies.

Agreed Fist of Legend is definitely one of his best movies

Jul 31 - 04:23 AM

xenogears

J'rome Holmes II

He is aging but he still has his speed and ability. As far as a replacement, Have you seen Ong Bak or the Protecter? Tony Jaa is the future of martial arts action movies.

Jul 31 - 05:17 AM

gigaherc

Michal Jakubowski

Tony Jaa is great, I've seen some of his movies and work, but in my opinion he lacks charisma and acting talent (my god I write about Jet's 'acting talent';) that Jet Li crafted along all these years. I know Jet still has the moves but we'll see more stuntmen, wires and cgi in his movies with years because he just can't do some stuff.
Anyway, I like him very much, pity you haven't mentioned Hitman, that was a nice little movie.

Jul 31 - 05:26 AM

RT-SmellyCat

Stephen Wang

Take it from a Jet Li expert:

For pure ***-kicking, Fist of Legend is indeed the best (9/10). But for a list of his other great movies:
Hero 10/10
Tai Chi Master (aka Twin Warriors) - 9/10
Wong Fei Hung 2 (aka Once Upon a Time in China 2) - 9/10 - and has his best fight scene ever, w/ Donnie Yen
The Warlords - 9/10
Fong Sai Yuk (aka The Legend) - 8/10 -- and hilariously funny

The number of unforgettable movies is stunning... a one man blockbuster machine!

Jul 31 - 08:00 AM

lonewolfsg

Paul Lee

Jackey Cheung did not play the part of Ling in the 1st part of The Swordsman, it was Sam Hui.

I think his best fight is the one with Donnie Yen in Hero. But I guess everyone has their favourites and most of his fights are great anyway.

Jul 31 - 08:17 AM

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

You are correct, sir. My bad. It's been fixed.

Jul 31 - 08:51 AM

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

You are correct, sir. My bad. It's been fixed.

Jul 31 - 08:51 AM

Havokdx

Jonathan Sabo

I really enjoyed unleashed myself thought that as a fun one.

Jul 31 - 09:32 AM

Ecs5001

Eric Stewart

Unleashed is his best American film.

Aug 1 - 11:56 AM

Long Live the New Flesh

Jonathan Gammons

I was about to say something about "Unleashed"! While I'm not a *huge* martial arts fanatic by anyone's standards, I had seen that film and really enjoyed it. Upon renting it (along with "Kingdom of Heaven"), I instantly fell in love with the blend of genres (most notably action and drama). It was just 3% off from being on the list!

Aug 1 - 02:35 PM

IrreducibleKoan

Sean Pak

Except that "Unleashed" isn't an American film. ;]

Aug 1 - 03:15 PM

Long Live the New Flesh

Jonathan Gammons

I was about to say something about "Unleashed"! While I'm not a *huge* martial arts fanatic by anyone's standards, I had seen that film and really enjoyed it. Upon renting it (along with "Kingdom of Heaven"), I instantly fell in love with the blend of genres (most notably action and drama). It was just 3% off from being on the list!

Aug 1 - 02:35 PM

IrreducibleKoan

Sean Pak

Except that "Unleashed" isn't an American film. ;]

Aug 1 - 03:15 PM

Roci

Roci Stone

Ooops, here they go ranking films again. Everyone better dig a nice deep hole and grab some plastic sheeting. At least this time someone is taking smaller bites. You can sit here and argue for the rest of Jet Li's life which film is worst..better.best. It's like the old gag about two ladies at a bargain sale both grabbing the same frock, tearing it to pieces, and beating on some poor floorwalker who comes between them.
How about some real Journalism? Instead of all this nonsense, go interview Jet Li, and let the man speak for his own works. I'd rather read his words than a mess of this. But then, maybe I expect too much. After all, this is just a fan site, isn't it?-Roci

Aug 2 - 10:00 PM

IrreducibleKoan

Sean Pak

Congratulations, Rob Cohen. You bastard. You've made Jet Li's new worst film.

Aug 3 - 04:49 PM

sayagila

egidio gaudi mulia

agreed, i didn't like jet li's movies since he moved to hollywood.

Aug 4 - 05:15 AM

RETyrant

Chase Chandler

Um... there is no Lethal Weapon V. V means 5 and IV means 4. I assume you were talking about Li's American debut in Lethal Weapon 4 which could also be written as Lethal Weapon IV.

Aug 4 - 01:22 PM

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