I’ve interviewed Jet Li three times over the years and each time he’s said that he was all but retired. Today I had a chance to talk with him about the new Mummy, where he plays the titular mummy (also the titular Dragon Emperor), and once again he said the time had come for him to wrap it up*. Mostly.
While not ruling out ever doing another movie, he said he prefers spending his time working with his One Foundation (formerly the Smacked With Motorcycles Foundation). “I want to give back,” he said.
The One Foundation is working with the Chinese Red Cross and raised and disbursed millions to help victims of the recent Chinese quake. Li says he looks to use the One Foundation – which raises money online through donations as small as one yuan – to fund education and health efforts not just in China but all over Asia and in a few years in India.
In the meantime he says that everything he wanted to say was said in Fearless: “Why we study martial arts, why we beat people up and who the true enemy is.” To him the movies are only a job now, and one he can afford to slack on – he’s turned down every role offered to him in 2008.
The Mummy may not be exactly the ideal career capstone, but it’s no Transformers cartoon. And since I’m the only person who likes The Forbidden Kingdom, maybe I’ll pretend he went out as the Monkey King.
Until his next movie, that is.
* No pun intended.