By Liu Wei
BEIJING, Sept. 27 -- Filmmaking is just a hobby now, says kungfu star Jet Li, who is spending more time on his charity and on promoting martial arts.
He has turned down three films in 2011, including an American one, Li says at the premiere of his latest film, It's Love, a fantasy flick based on a Chinese folktale about the romance between a man and a snake fairy.
He plays a kungfu monk in the film, which will be released on Sept 28.
The 48-year-old, while running his charity institution One Foundation, will soon start a company to promote tai chi with Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma. Alibaba is one of the largest online commerce platforms in China.
The former national martial arts champion expects to break the stereotyped view of tai chi as a form of exercise favored by just old people in parks.
It could be a fashionable sport for young people around the world, as much as India's yoga and South Korea's taekwondo, Li believes.
"China is an economic powerhouse," he said at Alibaba Group's annual summit for small- to medium-sized business owners in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, recently.
He added the company, named Taichi Zen, will focus on providing a cultural experience.
"Italian coffee is better than Starbucks, but consumers over the world recognize Starbucks more than Italian coffee, because it offers a cultural experience," he said at the summit.
Li's next movie is about tai chi. He will produce the film and play an important role.
Li's efforts may also help boost China's soft power overseas, another of his concerns. He attended the 68th Venice International Film Festival in September and was proud that It's Love was screened there.
"Audiences there were surprised that Chinese films can create such great special effects," he says. "In the future more and more impressive Chinese films will show up at international film festivals."
The film, costing 180 million yuan ($28 million), will be screened during the National Day holiday, a lucrative slot for filmmakers. Even so, Li says he does not care that much about the box office.
"I will make films again, but that is more like a hobby for me now," he says. "However, I will be a volunteer for charity causes for the rest of my life, and spend a lot of my time on Taichi Zen."