Jet Li made only 60sen a day for his first movie, 'Shaolin Temple'


Jet Li's career in the film industry had humble beginnings. Photo: Jet Li/Instagram

Chinese-born actor Jet Li might be a big star now, raking in the big bucks but did you know he only made 1 yuan (RM0.65) a day while working on his debut film, in the 1982 action flick Shaolin Temple?

The 60-year-old actor revealed this in his new book, Looking For Jet Li: Beyond Life And Death.

It is definitely a far cry from the 70mil yuan (RM45mil) salary he received for the 2002 epic Hero or the 100mil yuan (RM64.4mil) he was paid for 2007's The Warlords.

Reflecting on the early days of his career, Li said: "My earnings were incomparable to what others were making in the 1990s. Despite that, I was treated like a Hollywood star at the time.

"The amount I earned while breaking my arms and legs to survive in the industry paled in comparison to what the businessmen doing global investments were earning."

Upon the completion of Shaolin Temple in 1981, Li was asked to return to compete in martial arts tournaments. However, Li refused to abandon his dream of becoming an actor.

"If I were to return to being an athlete, my acting career would have to stop. I couldn't say no to competing due to the organisation's regulations. The only way for me to get out of the competition was to get injured," he said.

Thus, Li began hoping for an injury that would halt his career as an athlete.

His wish came true when he suffered a "serious injury" during practice and was declared "medically disabled" by the doctor. Li's career as an athlete had come to an end.

"It's what I wanted. But at the same time, the doctor also told me not to exert myself in martial arts films," he said.

Li got injured around the time he shot to fame thanks to Shaolin Temple, which premiered in 1982. While the actor was delighted to receive requests for autographs and interviews, he did feel "crushed" because of his injury.

Nevertheless, Li persisted and has since gone on to become one of the biggest names in the action scene.

Li has starred in movies like The Master (1992), Fearless (2006), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) and The Expandables (2010) among others.

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