Jet Li a shadow of former self due to hyperthyroidism

Illness and past injuries have caught up with the action star.

Belmont Lay | May 19, 2018, 05:20 PM

Martial artist superstar Jet Li has been reduced to a shadow of his former self.

His Chinese fans, who know him better as Li Lianjie, have been shocked by recent photos circulating online showing his current physique.

They revealed the extent of Li's hyperthyroidism and spinal problems.

The recent photo showed him visiting a temple in Tibet.

Besides Li’s frail appearance, he was seen to be assisted while he walked.


Li, 55, revealed five years ago he has been suffering from hyperthyroidism.

In 2017, the Beijing-born actor spoke about his illness after a long absence from the public eye at One Foundation’s charity dinner in the Chinese capital.

Kept condition in check

The actor said he had been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid in 2010.

He took medication that kept his illness in check, but the condition kept coming back.

Hyperthyroidism causes changes in a person’s metabolism and heart rate.

Li said his strong belief in Buddhism, as well as meditation and scripture reading help stabilise his condition.

He had been warned by doctors in 2013 that he would "end up in a wheelchair" if he continued to make physically-demanding films.

He has been unable to perform stressful physical activities due to his condition.

He said at the time: “I’m just a regular guy. I’m not Wong Fei-hung. I’m not Huo Yuanjia. I’m just like you.”

A video of Li in 2018:


Jet Li in 2018 New Year greeting video

In November 2017, Li had just appeared in a martial arts trailer that marked billionaire Jack Ma's movie debut.

Jet Li vs Jack Ma

Jet Li is Singaporean

Li is a known Hollywood icon, having starred in Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die and more recently, Expendables 2.

He is also an ex-Chinese, ex-United States, and currently naturalised Singapore citizen.

He had congratulated President Halimah Yacob on her presidency in September 2017.


Past injuries

The star of the breakout Chinese classic, Once Upon a Time in China, has been making films since he burst onto the scene as a former national wushu champion while in his teens in the late 1970s.

His poor health is the result of decades of starring in demanding film roles, stunts and injuries.

Li has said before he is also suffering from leg and spinal problems. He was unable to stand straight for too long.

His first major injury was at 18 when he tore his knee that required seven-and-a-half hours of surgery. He also sustained a serious back injury at 23.