Li Lianjie, better known by his stage name, Jet Li, was already getting famous by the time Richard Nixon asked him to be his personal bodyguard. That seems like a stretch, doesn’t it? However it did happen and Li’s response was priceless. He said that he didn’t want to protect any one man, he wanted to protect his Chinese countrymen. Considering that he was a kid when he said this it’s the perfect answer and one that no doubt earned a great many chuckles along the way. This guy was winning medals for his high-level performances when he was just 12 years of age, so Nixon’s wish might have been a little more than a mild joke, but of course we won’t ever really know.
Just for the sake of hypothetical argument let’s say that Li did become’s someone’s bodyguard at that point in his life. First he might have missed out on the life of fame that he’s enjoyed for so many years, and he possibly would have found the job rather boring after a while. I don’t care how rich or famous a person is, unless you become their best friend the job is likely to become a bit of a grind. Second is the fact that the more high profile a person is, the more danger they seem to attract at times. I’m not stating that there’s a plot out to kill anyone and everyone that has a bodyguard, but if someone is on the wrong person’s radar there’s a good chance that there could be trouble eventually.
If Li had become someone’s personal bodyguard though there’s a good chance that such a person would have been nigh untouchable. Even coming too close to them without permission seems like it would have been courting trouble since from a young age Li has been certifiably tough. He retired from Wushu at age 19. Did you get that? He actually RETIRED from Wushu, meaning he had nothing more to prove and that he’d done his bit. After that he went into acting where he eventually became one of the hottest action stars on the market.
If he was ever going to be anyone’s bodyguard he’d probably still be highly effective in hand to hand, but in other forms of combat there’s really no telling since he was an action star, not a trained agent of any discernible agency. For much of his career he’s either played a trained killer, a mercenary, or someone that works with the government and is just flat out awesome. However great his abilities are though, and they are, he’s fallen under the same myth that has plagued a lot of action stars and that’s that he can take on anyone at anytime no matter the numbers.
In other words, Jet Li is awesome when it comes to what he knows, which is Wushu and how to kick butt for real, but when it comes to being a bodyguard I think he made the right choice all those years ago.
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