Movie star Jet Li, seen in this undated picture, has played policemen and hired killers in his action films.

Action movie star Jet Li has harshly criticized Chinese officials for their heavy censorship of foreign films, complaining that none of his Hollywood pictures have been screened in his homeland.

On his website, the 44-year-old action star complained that several of his films were banned because they featured Chinese gangsters or characters that the officials had deemed bad for China's image.

"Typically, action films have good and bad characters," wrote Li. "If gangsters aren't appropriate and police officers aren't appropriate, then what type of character can there be that wouldn't start an argument?"

Li pointed out that authorities refused to show2001's Kiss of the Dragon in China because, "it has a negative image of a Chinese police officer going abroad to fight and kill."

Li, born in China in 1963, said only "the ancient Chinese stories" are allowed to be screened.

And foreign films face more obstacles than films made by Chinese production companies.

For example, inan effort to foster a home-grown movie industry, China only allows about 20 foreign movies to be officially screened each year. As well, the country's Film Bureau has the power to request further editing of offensive scenes.

Recently, the Bureau asked for a revision of the one of the year's biggest hits, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Scenes featuring Chow Yun-Fat's character, Captain Sao Feng, were re-edited because the depiction of the pirate was seen as anti-Chinese.

All of these restrictions mean the country is rife with illegal copies of Hollywood films.

Li, a former national kung fu champion, made his name in Hong Kong film before moving on to Hollywood, appearing in a range of action movies such as 2000's Romeo Must Die, Hero and Unleashed.

"It is my hope that audiences can mature and develop to see the difference between a movie and real life; not everything needs to be realistic," said Li.