The son of Shanghai-born parents, Wu was raised in the San Francisco Bay area and connected with his heritage at any early age. Finding inspiration in the movies of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, he actively pursued wushu martial arts throughout high school and college. While visiting Hong Kong in 1997, Wu unexpectedly jumpstarted his career as a model, and this publicity led filmmaker Yonfan to cast him in his 1998 romantic drama, "Bishonen," where he portrayed a police officer torn between his fidelity to his wife and the temptation of a homosexual affair. Although Wu had almost no experience reading or speaking Cantonese, his movie career in Hong Kong quickly kicked into high gear, with roles in major action productions such as "Gen-X Cops" and "Purple Storm." Before long, he was headlining films along with celebrities such as Maggie Q (2002's "Naked Weapon") and anchoring a comedy franchise (2002's "Love Undercover" and its sequel). Dabbling in film production, Wu also entered the sphere of his idol, Jackie Chan, appearing in a number of Chan-related projects in 2004, including the Hollywood adventure/comedy "Around the World in 80 Days," which proved to be a high-prolife flop, and "New Police Story," a well-received continuation of the popular "Police Story" series. Contributing to a steady stream of Hong Kong action movies and comedies, Wu made news in China when he assembled a boy band, a move that was merely a playful tie-in with the mockumentary "The Heavenly Kings" (2006), his pop-culture-skewering directorial debut. Among Wu's subsequent films were the lauded crime thrillers "Protégé" (2007), co-starring Andy Lau, and "Shinjuku Incident" (2009), which marked a rare dramatic role for his co-star Jackie Chan. Sticking largely to predictable Hong Kong action and comedic fare, Wu threw a curveball by starring in "Inseparable" (2011), an offbeat Chinese-set comedy featuring Kevin Spacey as a quirky American expatriate. Partnering with fellow actor/director Stephen Fung, Wu formed Diversion Pictures, and released two martial arts movies back-to-back in 2012, "Tai Chi Zero" and "Tai Chi Hero," both with Wu in the role of Mad Monk. He continued his efforts to appear in more English-language productions, turning up in RZA's star-studded action movie "The Man with the Iron Fists," featuring Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, and joined the cast of the sci-fi film "Europa Report" (2013), which included South African actor Sharlto Copley of "District 9" fame and Michael Nyqvist, known as the protagonist of the Swedish "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series.