Jet Li sat at a corner table in the lavish Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, Calif., slowly fingering the Buddhist prayer beads coiled around his wrist. "I am spending a lot of my time on the Internet,'' said Li, 38. ``I like to read what my fans are saying and to talk to them, about my movies and about my philosophy." Long a favorite of Asian audiences, the slender but lightning-quick Li was first seen by mainstream American audiences as the villain in Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998, then as the star of Romeo Must Die in 2000. His latest film, Kiss of the Dragon, a crime thriller with Bridget Fonda, opened last week, and The One, in which Li plays a good guy and a bad guy living in parallel universes, is due in November. Li said he was a bit stung by the reaction of some fans to Romeo Must Die . They criticized the fight sequences as too Hollywood and not realistic enough. So he vowed that would not be the case with Kiss of the Dragon, which has fight scenes that Li described as hard-core and extremely bloody and realistic. "It is rated R, but even though this means that parents can bring their children, I am asking them not to do so,'' he said. ``I feel very strongly about this."It's all part of Li's conversion to Tibetan Buddhism three years ago. At the time, Li said, he had been considering retiring from filmmaking. But then he realized he could use his films "to spread the teachings of Buddhism in a non-traditional way. ...I am looking further than box-office returns."
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