Only 55: Jet Li Ages Rapidly Due to Illness

It’s been a while since we’ve last seen the legendary martial arts star Jet Li (李連杰), who was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2013. The veteran action star has been semi-retired since then.

Recently, photos of Jet Li attending an event in Tibet leaked on the Internet, and netizens are scrambling to make comments about his appearance. His illness clearly took a toll on his looks—although the actor is only 55 years old, Jet Li has lost his hair and has clearly defined wrinkles, making him look at least 70 years old. Many netizens didn’t even recognize him.

Because of his hyperthyroidism, Jet Li could not do physically demanding exercise. The side effects of his medication included weight gain and heart problems. His doctor once warned him, “If you continue to do movies, you’re going to end up in the wheelchair.”

Though no longer in the big screen, Jet Li hasn’t exactly stopped work. He has been busy managing his disaster-relief charity organization and promoting the health benefits of tai chi around the world. Last year, Jet Li made a public appearance to promote the film Gong Shou Dao <功守道>, a kung fu short film. In his interview with the famous talk show host Lu Yu (魯豫), Jet Li was happy and talkative; the actor hasn’t been affected by his illness.


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Shocking. But Jet Li is counting his blessings that he still have a life. If he take care, he can still do many things for a long time. All the best to him.

  2. My oldest brother has this illness so I constantly worry. However, I heard that as long as you manage it well you should be ok. My brother’s mother in law has had hypothyroidism for over 20 years and she is fine so as long as you manage it well, you should be ok.

    1. @hetieshou I’m hypo too but some days you literally cannot get out of bed. Bloodwork tells dr you’re fine but in reality it messes you up in other ways. It’s like living with a cloud over your head but there’s nothing they can do about it. A disease that is almost silent but the those who don’t suffer from it looking in think you look fine or are just lazy…

      1. @kuks
        Sorry to hear about your illness. I know that any illness is a pain. With my oldest brother, he was always lazy and inactive even before getting hyperthyroidism so with him it is hard to tell. But I still encourage him to be active and stay healthy. It is hard as he is a very very lazy person. Even when he got the illness, he lost 50-60 pounds and looked like a zombie but yet refused to get medication and see a doctor. Everyone in our family had to force him and he finally did.

        Hope you stay and think positive and try to enjoy life to the fullest in spite of that illness.

  3. wow this is not the image of Jet Li I grew up with… I hope he remain healthy.

  4. It is not a death sentence but you just have to be careful with your lifestyle. Jet Li seems to be a disciplined person. I guess faith helps. I hope he feels well soon. Not so much bothered by how he looks as long as he is able to be happy and his family is supportive of him. All of us will age one day.

  5. Aww 🙁 hope he manage it well and have a great life with his family. Looking like this, he fits the role of the emperor in Mulan 🙂 so it’s not bad, one just have to look at different role 🙂

  6. Saddened by this news (I had no idea this was the reason behind his “hiatus”), but am happy that he remains optimistic and hasn’t allowed the illness to affect his spirit.

    I’m most excited to see him in the upcoming Mulan, and hope his health and physical condition will improve shortly.

  7. You’d think the Martial Arts crowd would be quite immune to illnesses, because they’re so fit. But seems like they have over-taxed their bodies instead physically.

    It is shocking to learn of Jet Li’s condition.Brings to mind very health Martial Arts folks like the late Liu Jia-liang | Lau Kar Fai (刘家良) and Gordon Liu Jia-hui 刘家辉

    1. @nomad822
      Martial artists are most susceptible to injuries while doing death defying action scenes. Sacrificing their physical health to please the audience takes an enormous toll on their well-being.

  8. It is sad that everyone has to go through illnesses and sicknesses, before being able to pass on to the afterlife. Life sucks.

  9. i use to watch everyone of his movies liked him more then JAckie Chen its sad to see anyone being sick hope he will continue to stay positive most important is to be happy spend qualiity time with his family

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