Martial arts superstar Jet Li shocks fans with his youthful appearance

Jet Li in 2018 (left) and recently in 2019.
PHOTO: Facebook & Instagram

What a difference a year makes. Martial arts superstar Jet Li Lianjie is looking "really good" these days after one fan recently shared a photo of him with the Mulan star that is taking the internet by storm again - but in a good way.

The 56-year-old Chinese star of The Expendables 3 and Lethal Weapon 4 has been battling hyperthyroidism for years and 15 months ago he made headlines around the world when he appeared in a photo that showed him looking extremely frail.

Last year, the Beijing-born actor said he had been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid and has been taking medication to help him keep his illness in check. Hyperthyroidism causes changes in a person's metabolism and heart rate.

After shocking the internet community with his fragile appearance last year, the Romeo Must Die star appeared to have done a 180-degree turn and looks rejuvenated to such a degree that fans could hardly recognise him. He does look 20 years younger compared with his ailing state last year.

In this most recent photo of him with a fan, it appears the martial arts superstar is in good health - and good spirits.

With his hair grown back and wearing a cap and sunglasses, Li smiled for the camera and many netizens were taken aback by his "youthful appearance".

"I thought this photo was taken 10 years ago," said one commenter. "Wow … his physical appearance is awesome," said another.

"Only 18 years old … his smile is sweet," said another netizen of Li's radiant appearance.

The photo appears to be proof Li's battle with hyperthyroidism is firmly under control. Netizens were also left wondering whether the one-time national wushu champion will return to action genre movies now that he appears much healthier than before.

In his latest film, Li plays the Emperor of China in Disney's live-action remake of Mulan, which is expected to be released in 2020.

Multiple award-winning actor Li has not shown his full martial arts skills in a big budget movie since The Expendables 3 in 2014 when he starred alongside an ensemble cast that included Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Li has been less in the spotlight these days, appearing in fewer movies but has been just as popular with his legion of fans.

He has also been dedicating much of his life to helping disaster relief after he and his family were caught up in the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Recently, he made an appearance to raise money for the Jack Ma Foundation, a charitable organisation established in 2014 by Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post.

Li said on Instagram last month: "Congratulations to our outstanding rural teachers and principals. In order to ensure a better tomorrow, we must focus on better education for children living in rural areas of China."

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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