Jet Li rockets to deal

'Lethal 4' villain inks 7-digit hero pact for U's 'War'

NEW YORK — Jet Li, the Chinese action star who makes his U.S. debut as the villainous martial artist in the upcoming “Lethal Weapon 4,” has made a seven-figure deal to star in “The Art of War,” a Universal/Alliance effort that will be a co-production between Dan Halsted and Oliver Stone’s Illusion Entertainment and Dick Wolf Films.

WB tapped Li for “Lethal” because of his international stature; he’s made 25 action films that rival those of Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat for popularity in Asia. Li, a five-time national champion of martial arts in China, played the hero in all of those efforts before putting on the black hat to menace Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in “Lethal Weapon.”

In “The Art of War,” he goes back to being the good guy. The drama, scripted by Wayne Beach, stars Li as a secret agent wrongly accused of assassinating world leaders. Under the backdrop of the United Nations, he must find the real killer to clear his name. A director will be hired shortly.

Both Warner Bros. and Gibson are looking for vehicles for Li, who is repped by ICM’s Steve Chasman and attorneys Jake Bloom and David Feldman.