EW Staff
September 15, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Martial-arts fans may be mourning Jet Li’s recent decision to make Fearless (Sept. 22) his last fight-filled film, but the 43-year-old isn’t auditioning for Woody Allen yet. He just wrapped the assassin drama Rogue and is contemplating a first-time team-up with Jackie Chan. Here, Li reflects on 24 years of sparring on film. (Interviewed and translated from Mandarin by Michelle Kung)

SHAOLIN TEMPLE 1982 (Chieh Yuan) ”At 11, I caught the eye of a [Chinese] producer. Bruce Lee had died, so he was on the lookout for fresh blood, and checked with me yearly until I agreed to do my first movie.”

LETHAL WEAPON 4 1998 (Wah Sing Ku) ”My first villain” — and his first U.S. movie. ”They needed an Asian actor; I wanted to break into Hollywood.”

ROMEO MUST DIE 2000 (Han Sing) ”In America, I don’t have as much choice [in roles],” he says. ”But hip-hop” — and the late Aaliyah — ”brought energy to this film.”

HERO 2004 (Nameless) ”With more recent films, I’ve tried to emphasize that violence is not the solution. This movie expressed that beautifully.” (Li’s assassin was honored for refusing to kill his target.)

UNLEASHED 2005 (Danny) ”[There’s a] perception that Chinese people only know how to fight. I wanted to show that if you’re weak mentally, you don’t know life.”

FEARLESS 2006 (Huo Yuanjia) ”There were a quarter of a million suicides in the world in 2004, so I wanted to make a movie to tell that everyone has a hard time. Huo wanted to commit suicide, but he found meaning in a special kind of martial arts.”

You May Like