15 Best Jet Li Movies of All Time

Before he made his Hollywood debut, Jet Li had already been famous in China and had made some epic martial arts movies there during the 90s. Some of those are: Once Upon a Time in China series, and Fist of Legend.

He made his American film debut in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) and his first leading role in a Hollywood film was in Romeo Must Die (2003). During the 2000s he starred in several other excellent movies, like Kiss of the Dragon, The One, Hero, Cradle 2 the Grave and Unleashed. In fact, the best Jet Li movies were made during this decade.

RELATED: Best Jackie Chan Movies of All Time

In the last decade (2000-2019) he has appeared as part of ensemble cast in The Expendables series.

Here is the list of best Jet Li movies of all time (ordered by release date):

1. Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

Genre: Action, Adventure, History
Director: Hark Tsui
Starring: Jet Li (28), Rosamund Kwan, Biao Yuen

The film is set in the late 19th century in Foshan, China, where legendary martial arts hero Wong-Fei Hung (Jet Li) needs to stand up against foreign forces, and train others to the same. He also needs to look after a young Aunt who just arrived from the West and is completely westernised. It is the first installment in the Once Upon a Time in China film series.

2. Once Upon A Time In China II (1992)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Biography
Director: Hark Tsui
Starring: Jet Li (29), Rosamund Kwan, Siu Chung Mok

In the sequel, martial arts expert Wong Fei-Hung faces The White Lotus society, a cult seeking to drive the Europeans out of China through violence. And again, he must protect young Aunt Yee.

3. The Legend (1993)

Genre: Action, Comedy, History
Director: Corey Yuen
Starring: Jet Li (30), Josephine Siao, Michelle Reis

Li plays a young martial artist Fong Sai-yuk who likes beautiful Lui Ting-ting. When her father, a local official, stages a competition where the winner can marry his daughter, Fong Sai-yuk decides to compete. He will find out that his future bride is actually a replacement and not the woman he met. He will also find out that his father is a member of the rebel Red Lotus Society who wants to overthrow the Emperor.

4. Tai-Chi Master (1993)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama
Director: Woo-Ping Yuen
Starring: Jet Li (30), Michelle Yeoh, Siu-Ho Chin

Two friends Junbao and Tienbao are expelled from Shaolin temple after one of them almost killed a student for cheating. After they have wandered for some time, they decide to go separate ways. Tienbao joins the military and Junbao joins the rebels. When Tienbao sets a trap for rebels, Junbao is in disbelief that his former friend has betrayed him. He will find salvation in Tai Chi. The final showdown between the two is inevitable.

5. Fist of Legend (1994)

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Director: Gordon Chan
Starring: Jet Li (31), Shinobu Nakayama, Siu-Ho Chin

In 1937, a Chinese martial artist Chen Zhen (Jet Li) returns to Shanghai, which is under Japanese protectorate. His kung-fu master died in a fight against a Japanese champion, but he wants to prove the fact that he has actually been poisoned. Both nationalities’ honors are at stake and situation will culminate in Chen’s epic fight against the undefeated Japanese general Fujita.

It is a remake of the 1972 film, Fist of Fury, which starred Bruce Lee.

6. Romeo Must Die (2000)

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Jet Li (37), Aaliyah (21), Isaiah Washington

Jet Li plays Han, an ex-cop who travels to the United States to investigate the murder of his brother, who had ties with the Chinese mafia. He finds help from Trish, a rival mobster’s beautiful daughter. Together they work to find his brother’s killers. This is considered Jet Li’s breakout role in the English speaking American film industry.

7. Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director: Chris Nahon
Starring: Jet Li (38), Bridget Fonda (37), Tchéky Karyo

Liu Jian (Jet Li), a Chinese intelligence agent, is sent to Paris to help apprehend Chinese drug lord and his unknown French connection. He meets Inspector Jean-Pierre Richard, the head of the vice squad, who is the French connection and intends to kill the drug lord and then frame Jian. One of Richard’s hookers will help Jian if he helps her to save her daughter.

8. The One (2001)

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Director: James Wong
Starring: Jet Li (38), Carla Gugino (30), Jason Statham (34), Delroy Lindo

There are many parallel realities (a Multiverse) and only the police agency, MVA, is allowed to travel across them. A former MVA agent (Jet Li) has killed another version of himself in self-defense and has found that he is stronger now. The rogue police officer begins power travels to parallel realities in order to kill other versions of himself to become a mythical super-being known as “The One”. His two former colleges are after him.

9. Hero (2002)

Genre: Action, Adventure, History
Director: Yimou Zhang
Starring: Jet Li (39), Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung

In ancient China, the most powerful ruler Qin is out to conquer the other six kingdoms. This puts the king in a permanent threat of assassination attempts. One man, known only as Nameless, has single-handedly killed all three most dangerous assassins. Now he is summoned to the palace to tell the king how he accomplished this amazing victory.

This film was both a commercial and critical success and became the highest-grossing motion picture in Chinese film history at the time. It became the first Chinese-language movie to place No. 1 at the American box office. Hero is the best rated Jet Li movie on IMDb.

10. Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Jet Li (40), DMX (33), Mark Dacascos (39)

After his daughter is kidnapped and held in exchange for priceless diamonds, the leader of a crew of highly skilled thieves (DMX) forges an unlikely alliance with a Taiwanese Intelligence officer (Jet Li) to rescue her. Their race against the clock to find the precious stones ultimately unravels a plot to distribute a deadly new weapon of war.

11. Unleashed (2005)

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jet Li (42), Bob Hoskins, Morgan Freeman

Li plays Danny the Dog, an adult with the mentality of a child who has been raised like an animal. He has been treated like a dog and raised as a fighting machine his entire life. After he ends up injured in an accident, Danny stumbles upon Sam (Morgan Freeman), a blind elderly piano tuner. Sam is the first person to treat Danny with kindness. His owner, a gangster, wants him back to fight in ilegal fights, but Danny doesn’t want to hurt people anymore.

12. Fearless (2006)

Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
Director: Ronny Yu
Starring: Jet Li (43), Li Sun, Yong Dong

In Fearless, Li plays Huo Yuanjia, a martial arts legend who challenges and reportedly defeats foreign boxers and Japanese martial artists in publicised events. He restores the pride and nationalism to China at a time when Western imperialism and Japanese manipulation are eroding the country in the final years of the Qing Dynasty before the birth of the Republic of China.

13. War (2007)

Genre: Action, Thriller
Directors: Philip G. Atwell
Starring: Jet Li (44), Jason Statham, Nadine Velazquez

An FBI agent seeks an assassin known as Rogue to avenge his partner. When the two finally meet, the agent will learn the truth about the past.

14. The Warlords (2007)

Genre: Action, Drama, History
Directors: Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Wai Man Yip
Starring: Jet Li (44), Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro

The film is set in China in the 1860’s during the Taiping Rebellion. It’s a heroic tale of three blood brothers and their struggle in the midst of war. The story is based on the assassination of general Ma Xinyi in 1870.

15. The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Director: Rob Minkoff
Starring: Jet Li (45), Jackie Chan, Michael Angarano

When a teenager finds himself with a legendary golden staff, he somehow travels back to ancient China. He will join a group of warriors on a quest to save the imprisoned Monkey King.

15 Best Jet Li Movies According to IMDb

According to IMDb, these are 15 best Jet Li movies in the lead role:

  • Hero (2002) – 7.9
  • Fearless (2006) – 7.6
  • Ocean Heaven (2010) – 7.6
  • Fist of Legend (1994) – 7.5
  • Once Upon A Time In China II (1992) – 7.4
  • Once Upon a Time in China (1991) – 7.3
  • Tai-Chi Master (1993) – 7.2
  • The Legend (1993) – 7.2
  • Swordsman II (1992) – 7.2
  • Unleashed (2005) – 7.0
  • The Warlords (2007) – 7.0
  • Shaolin Temple (1982) – 7.0
  • The Legend II (1993) – 7.0
  • Once Upon a Time in China III (1992) – 6.8
  • Last Hero in China (1993) – 6.7

11 Best Jet Li Movies According to Box Office

  • Hero (2002) – $178 million
  • The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) – $128 million
  • Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011) – $100 million
  • Shaolin Temple (1982) – $96 million
  • Romeo Must Die (2000) – $91 million
  • The One (2001) – $73 million
  • Fearless (2006) – $68 million
  • War (2007) – $67 million
  • Kiss of the Dragon (2001) – $65 million
  • Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) – $56 million
  • Unleashed (2005) – $51 million

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