The New Paper
27 July 2016
Jet Li is barely recognisable in the new Chinese fantasy film League Of Gods.
The Chinese martial arts star sports long hair and a beard as ancient military strategist Jiang Ziya.
Jiang plays mentor to protagonist Leizhenzi (Jacky Heung) who journeys to find a magical sword to defeat an oppressive king (Tony Leung Ka Fai) controlled by nine-tailed vixen Daji (Fan Bingbing).
League Of Gods, based on 16th-century Chinese novel Investiture Of The Gods, opens here tomorrow.
Li, 53, told M over the phone from Beijingthat it took two hours of make-up to achieve that look.
He said in Mandarin: "Actors are mentally prepared for (the long hours), but I kept asking, 'I thought technology is so advanced, why do we need to paste the beard (on my face)?' They said it wouldn't look natural otherwise."
Even though his character becomes younger with magic, Li is not impressed with physical youth.
He said: "You can have plastic surgery and look young, but if your mentality is old, there is no use... I think a person's mentality is more important than his appearance."
Li would like to have the mentality of (a tween or teen) because they "live in the moment".
"Adults are more complicated. I have to decide what clothes I should wear to meet people, what I should say so that it is not offensive. We have a lot to consider and that drains our energy."
As Jiang, Li does not have as many action scenes as in his typical films, but he assures his fans that it is a result of his character's personality rather than problems with his health.
He said: "What health concerns do I have?... A lot of friends ask (about my health because of reports online), and I ask them which wheelchair company said that I need to sit in a wheelchair. It is quite funny."
He has recovered from hyperthyroidism, but he would not have had trouble filming even if he had difficulty pulling off the stunts.
"With today's technology... even a person who cannot fight can be in a film. Now, American stars older than 70 can still be in a Swat team," said Li, who starred in the US ensemble action film franchise The Expendables with Hollywood actors Sylvester Stallone and Mickey Rourke.
However, Li is not sure if he will continue to star in action movies.
"I'm just playing... I'm doing what I want and following my instincts," he said. "People talk about box-office results, but I'm like Jiang Ziya. The important thing is to have fun."
Li also adopts this carefree attitude as a parent and does not have any specific goals for his four daughters.
He said: "As long as they have happy and healthy lives, that's good."