The Liberation of Jet Li

Mads Nissen for TIME

The cheer leader: Li, in Sanjiang with Donatella Versace, brings hope to earthquake survivors

As the convoy of 18 SUVs pulls to a halt on the narrow road above Sanjiang, Wenchuan county, Sichuan, the gleeful shrieks of an excited crowd float upwards through the autumnal mist. The vehicles have made the three-hour journey from the provincial capital Chengdu, spending two hours of it crawling through countryside affected by the cataclysmic earthquake in May. We say countryside — in fact, the view through the windows is an unsettling inversion of what the term normally evokes. Giant fissures sunder the hills and there are yawning voids where roads should be. Broad swaths of...

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