Jet Li rubbishes reports that he is in ill health

The actor and martial artist insists there is nothing to worry about his health and that he is all set for his next film, League Of Gods

Reports of China-born Jet Li's deteriorating health over the years have been greatly exaggerated.

He says he has no need for a wheelchair, contrary to some media's speculation that his hyperthyroidism is worsening and that he may be wheelchair-bound due to injuries sustained over the years of filming action movies.

"There is nothing to worry about my health," he tells the Singapore press over the phone from Beijing on Sunday.

"Recently, the Web has been abuzz with news that I'm going to be wheelchair-bound. Even my friends are concerned and are asking how I am.

"I'm not sure which wheelchair company is putting out such news to sell more wheelchairs. Perhaps someone wants me to be a spokesman for their wheelchairs."


In the movie League Of Gods, Jet Li plays the role of the wise strategist Jiang Ziya, who is endowed with magical powers. PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

Li, 53, says he has recovered from hyperthyroidism, a condition he was diagnosed with six years ago. It reportedly caused his weight to fluctuate and he was advised against exercising. Some of the condition's symptoms include muscle weakness and sleeping problems.

While he has indeed scaled back on acting projects in the last decade, he has done so not for health reasons but in favour of charity work. His recent work includes Chinese cop thriller Badges Of Fury (2013) and American and Hollywood action blockbuster The Expendables 3 (2014).

The new Chinese movie League Of Gods, based on the 16th-century Chinese novel Investiture Of The Gods, sees him playing the role of the wise strategist Jiang Ziya, who is endowed with magical powers.

During a clash-of-the-titans scene, an adversary strikes Jiang with a curse that makes him younger, but also depletes his powers.

In real life, Li is keen to regain his youth - not physically, but mentally.

Getting in a philosophical frame of mind, he says: "I feel what is important is the mindset. You can undergo cosmetic surgery to look younger, but what is the use if you think like an old person. But you can be 80 years old, be positive and still have a youthful outlook on life."

He would rather work towards achieving the intuitiveness and innocence of a five-year-old.

"Children eat when they are hungry, drink when they are thirsty and sleep when they are tired, no matter where they are," he says.

"Adults are much more compli- cated. They tend to overthink everything, from what outfit to wear to worrying whether their words offend someone. These worries make us tired. We should live in the moment."

As father to two girls - Jane and Jada, aged 16 and 13 - he seems pretty relaxed, too. Jane made the news recently after appearing at a fundraiser, eliciting praise from netizens for her beauty and potential to become an actress.

If she really were to enter show business despite the many pitfalls that he would no doubt be familiar with, Li, who is married to former actress Nina Li Chi, would give her his blessings.

He says: "She has her own dreams and has a mind of her own. I'm very open-minded, I'll support my daughters in whatever they want to pursue. All I want for them is to be healthy and happy."

•League Of Gods opens in cinemas on Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Jet Li dismisses reports of health woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe