Last month, it was announced that Maggie Q would be playing the legendary pirate queen Ching Shih in a limited television series entitled Red Flag. Not much is known about the series itself yet (it’s currently being shopped to networks), but what we do know about the history behind Ching Shih is kind of badass.
Ching Shih was 26 years old when she was captured in a raid by the infamus pirate Zheng Yi in 1801. Before then, she had been working as a prostitute in a brothel in Canton. She agreed to marry Zheng on condition that she would get half of his profits. Ching Shih encouraged her husband to build an alliance of six pirate fleets, which later became known as the Red Flag Fleet. After her husband died, Ching Shih gained ownership of the fleets.
She ruled her crew with an iron fist; at the peak of her power, she controlled over 1,500 vessels with a force of 17,000 men. Even the Chinese government couldn’t defeat her, so they tried making peace with her. At the end of her career, she decided to negotiate a deal with them —she and her men were given full amnesty and were allowed to keep their loot. Furthermore, any of her men who wished to join the Imperial Navy were allowed to do so. She also received a lieutenant’s commission, and thus retired from pirate life at the ripe old age of 35. She owned a casino and brothel until her death at age 69.
There have been many portrayals of Ching Shih already, but I’m interested to see what new or unique perspective Maggie Q brings to it. Undoubtedly, her sex appeal will be a major driving point, but Maggie Q has proven herself to be a talented action star and actress as well. In addition to this series, she’ll also be in the new Divergent movie as the Dauntless faction member Tori Wu. We’ll be keeping our eyes out for this series.
Note: the photo above is an artistic interpretation of the character, created by the author of this post.