Li directed more than 70 films in his career beginning in the 1950s and lasting till the 1990s. His The Enchanting Shadow, The Magnificent Concubine, and Empress Wu Tse-Tien were entered into the Cannes Film Festival in 1960, 1962, and 1963 respectively. Most of his movies in the 1970s and 1980s were Chinese historical dramas.
He died in Beijing due to a heart attack.
He was seventy.