Fans of martial arts superstar Jet Li are praying for his health after shocking recent photos revealed the extent of his hyperthyroidism and spinal problems.
The Hollywood icon, who starred in Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die and more recently The Expendables 2, revealed five years ago he has been suffering from hyperthyroidism.
A recent photo of him visiting a temple in Tibet has been widely circulated with many people taken aback by Li’s frail appearance. The photo also showed he had to be assisted while he walked.
Last year, the 55-year-old 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.
Hyperthyroidism causes changes in a person’s metabolism and heart rate and is usually treated through medication. It affects 1.6 per cent of the population in the US alone.
Li says his strong belief in Buddhism as well as meditation and scripture reading help stabilize his condition.
Li has said that his resting heart rate can go up to 130 beats per minute because of his illness, and that he cannot do any rigorous exercise.
He revealed he had been warned by doctors in 2013 that he “would end up in a wheelchair” if he continued making physically demanding action films.
He said at the time: “I’m just a regular guy. I’m not Wong Fei-hung. I’m not Huo Yuanjia [kung fu heroes he has portrayed on film]. I’m just like you.”
The star of the breakout Chinese classic Once Upon a Time in China said he was also suffering from leg and spinal problems and that he was unable to stand straight for too long, his poor health the result of decades of demanding film roles, stunts and injuries.
He has been making films since he burst onto the scene as a former national martial arts champion while in his teens in the late 1970s.