November 29, 2005


Jetandwife I like Jet Li. Seriously, I do. But when someone becomes an international mega-star it's often convenient for them to rewrite their history. Inconvenient details like first marriages, ditching your home country, and career failure wind up going in the dustbin of history and instead you do everything possible to make yourself look like some young godling who was destined for the heavens at birth.

Well, it looks like Jet Li is getting tired of leaving out big parts of his life, and he's talking about his first marriage to Huang Qiuyan. On the Chinese TV show "Life of Art" Jet describes this marriage:

"My family was poor. Her family was well-off. She often took care of me. That's how it happened. I didn't know what love was."

So romantic! My head is spinning!

At least he admits that he was a cad.

"In terms of how much emotion each person devoted, she maybe gave 90 percent or 80 percent. At most I gave ... I still haven't figured out."

Jet and Huang met on the set of Jet's second film KIDS FROM SHAOLIN (1983) and got married in 1988. Huang made such an impression on Jet that not once in his essays about his first three movies does he mention her. On his website he talks at great length about his movies and while he discusses taking baths, fighting with Lau Kar-leung, diving into ice cold rivers and the weather, he doesn't really think meeting the mother of his kids is all that important. Doesn't mention it once. According to Jet the best part about making KIDS FROM SHAOLIN wasn't getting some nookie but cooking eggs on the superheated ground.

The Shaolin craze sparked by SHAOLIN TEMPLE died out pretty fast with the next two Shaolin films (KIDS FROM SHAOLIN and MARTIAL ARTS OF SHAOLIN) doing only so-so business and Jet and Huang moved to San Francisco in 1988 where they had two daughters and tried to break into Hollywood (he's a US Green Card holder to this day, and I believe he still keeps a home in San Francisco). The result of all this effort was a couple of pieces of lo-value junk: THE MASTER and DRAGON FIGHT. They're poor movies in every sense of the word, but on DRAGON FIGHT, Jet met Nina Li Chi, a Hong Kong actress whom he left his wife for. (And on THE MASTER he fights Tae-Bo shill, Billy Blanks. But he didn't leave his wife for him.)

Nina was already in movies with Chow Yun-fat (THE SEVENTH CURSE and the upcoming TIGER ON BEAT) who was huge at the time, and she had PEDICAB DRIVER with Sammo Hung on the horizon (Sammo was always a big deal on the action side of the Hong Kong film biz). Mercenary, or loverboy, Jet Li jumped ship. He divorced Huang in 1990 ("When we parted, we were really like friends," he says. Uh-huh), went back to Hong Kong and starred in Tsui Hark's ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA and became the star he probably always figured he was supposed to be. So goodbye past, goodbye failed marriage and goodbye career slump.

But if Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that you can ditch your past all you want but eventually there's going to be a television special and it'll all come crawling back up out of the grave, hungry for the taste of your success.

November 29, 2005 at 07:54 AM in News | Permalink


Well, movie stars aside, this is fairly normal for certain Chinese men.

Posted by: Adam | Nov 29, 2005 6:52:17 PM

I'd say it's fairly common among men in general, regardless of ethnicity.

Posted by: oj | Dec 9, 2005 11:23:20 PM

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