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Jet Li Still Kicking
An Interview with the star of Cradle 2 the Grave
by Mike Kai

AsianConnections' Mike Kai chatted with Jet Li at a press roundtable the day before the world premiere of his latest movie Cradle 2 the Grave produced by Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die).

Cradle 2 the Grave features a blend of East meets West where kung fu meets street fighting, choreographed by legendary martial arts director Corey Yuen (Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die). Jet talks about how Buddhism and his fans at his website JetLi.com are influencing his work, and his next film as a break away from action.

Check out the official site at Cradle2theGrave.com. Also, the Cradle 2 the Grave contest has been extended with new prizes. Enter to win at RottenTomatoes.com!

Jet Li in Cradle 2 the Grave

Q: What attracted you to do this role?

Jet: I was working in China making the movie, Hero. Joel [Producer Joel Silver] called me [saying] we had another film to work together. I worked with him with Romeo Must Die, several years ago so I said ok, lets do it for fun.

Q: So you are the only good guy in this movie? You’re the only one on the side of justice and the law in the whole movie.

Jet: I think that he [my character] also tries to do bad things, like revenge, that is not right.  He tries to find the bad guy and bring back the stone.

Q: So what’s the trick to making these work as "movie" movies and action movies at the same time? Some movies get one part right and not the other part right. And obviously you want to get both right at the same time. 

Jet:  I think for martial arts and film, [it's] composing. We try to make them together.  Sometimes martial arts and story do not work. It is really difficult to make use the right way, so that film can help the whole story. 

Q: Do you think it works with this film?

Jet: This film is entertainment right?  (laughs) Music, Fight!...Some movies work very serious.  Because you believe the director and the story, like Hero… we worked for six months, everyone believes the director, we worked very hard, many details.  With Cradle 2 the Grave, its kind of just… go there and work.  I know the story but you just do the acting part, something you believe that is right, just do what the producer says. Just do it for fun.

Q: Have you done a film that you think is your best film, your favorite?

Jet: Some movies are very good that change my career, like Shaolin Temple, Once Upon a time Chine, Fist of Legend, Hero. But I always work very hard each time.  Some, you just do your job, but these are different.

Q: Do people ever challenge you to fight?

Related Links

Cradle 2 the Grave Website

Jet Li Official Website

Jet: Uh, no. Because I never say I’m the best fighter in the world. I just do martial arts, an athlete, and I make movies. Just a normal guy who plays a role. I’m not a tough guy, everyone could beat me pretty easily!

Q: How important is it for you to succeed in the States? What does that mean to you?

Jet: In the beginning, of course you are happy because the Hollywood production model is much bigger than the Hong Kong films. They spend more money and distribute the films around the world and reach more audience. I think since five years  I’ve studied Buddhism. Right now I try to do my best in each film, I don’t care too much about the future because the future is not coming yet. And the past is already past. So I focus on today. Today I do my best. 

Q: How did your becoming Buddhist influence your decision to make specific films and how did it influence the kind of character that you choose to play and your relationship with martial arts and acting?

Jet: I think that some movies you really want to make it, you believe the story but its difficult to make it because you have to prove to the studio that it will work because (the character) is different than the normal you. Like right now I am working on a film called Danny the Dog, with Morgan Freeman, a break out of action movies. I’ve made thirty one films where I always am the hero and save everyone, the city, country, everyone. This is the first film where I am saved by an individual, Morgan Freedom.  [My character] is physically built, but doesn’t know much about life mentally, like a dog, what life means. I learn compassion, love, family, responsibility and become a normal human. This kind of story I really enjoy. 

Q: Can you talk a little about how your fan’s feedback influences your fighting style in your films? I know that you used your website’s chatroom to determine who you fight against in this film.

Jet: Yes, my website is like family. A big family, a lot of people talk about movies, love. I share my life experiences and they share their lives. Like family. So this time we make this film I asked them who would be the best fighter that they want to see in this film.  So we voted and Mark [Dacascos] was the highest guy. 

Q: How long did it take you to shoot the fight challenge scene in the cage when you go in with Tom Arnold?

Jet: About 8 to 10 days. In Hong Kong we might spend two months on action sequences.

Q: Did anyone get hurt, kicked or punched accidentally?

Jet: Of course, everytime. You punch someone and just say sorry, sorry!

Q: What was it like working with the cast. You have DMX, Drag-on, which are all kind of new actors and I know they haven’t done many action or stunt scenes. What was it like working with them?

Jet: Its fun, everyone has their own personality.  Some work this way, some work the other way…and I think its cool.

AsianConnections wishes to thank Jet Li for contributing his valuable time for the interview, for which this would not have been possible.



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