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UPDATED 08/03/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/03/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT

>Jet Li

Kung Fu Fighter

As brothers in (fire) arms, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have a blast in the Lethal Weapon buddy-action series. But in the latest go-round the duo got their kicks in a far less pleasant way, courtesy of actor Jet Li's ferocious feet. As the soft-spoken, gravity-defying baddie in Lethal Weapon 4, Li, 35, whirls and buffets with a deftness that makes fellow Hong Kong export Jackie Chan look downright sluggish. But Gibson welcomed the thrashing. "He said, 'I saw your pictures, I like your fights; just decide how to beat me up,' " says Li.

Born in Beijing, Li began studying martial arts at 8 and three years later won his first national title. With more than 25 Hong Kong films under his (black) belt, Li, who rents a home in L.A., is turning his attention stateside. He next shoots Romeo Must Die, a Jet-fueled take on Romeo & Juliet. With international success looming, Li's chief goal is making his mother proud and supporting his four siblings. "I can take care of them," he says. "This is why I train very hard."

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