“How I Became a Gangster” is a Polish film about an unnamed gangster’s journey from being the son of a taxi driver to climbing to the top of the world of crimes. With songs constantly playing in the background and the self-important dialogue delivered by the protagonist, the film is thoroughly pretentious and stereotypical. While the protagonist did not have a troubled childhood and was loved by his parents, the streets of Warsaw turned him into a fighter and later a gangster. From a young age, he was easily angered and would often end up fighting those who dared to challenge him. His father was an honest man who hoped for his son to choose an honest life, but it was almost impossible for him.
‘How I Became A Gangster’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The protagonist found the world of gangsters amusing. He would often drive his father’s taxi with his friends at night and visit the hotels that gangsters and sex workers frequented. He wanted to belong to the world that functioned at night, and as a little boy, he was desperate to grow up and become one of those rich fellows from the hotel. Growing up, he searched for business opportunities that would help him make a place in the world of gangsters. He started his first business as a handler, providing sex workers to Saudi Arabians who were desperately seeking Polish women. He roughed up those who dared to hurt the sex workers and started to create quite a name for his service. By 1996, he had started working for Magi and had a team of thirty members working for him. He and his team primarily focused on armed robberies that they conducted with the help of those who chose to rat them out for a percentage of the money they robbed. While their robbery was a success, the sloppiness of his team members led to their eventual arrests. Our protagonist was arrested as well, but not for robbery; he was serving a sentence for beating up a man.
After eighteen months, he was released from prison, and that was when he decided that he would never work for someone else. He would make his own rules and follow his instincts; he did not wish to go down like the rest of the Polish gangsters. The first person he brought under his wing was Walden. He had met Walden when he was young, and the two reconnected at a nightclub before his arrest. Walden admired him and his lifestyle. He knew Walden would be faithful to him because he would always be grateful for introducing him to the underworld. He only had a few trusted members on his team, and those were the only people he met face-to-face. The team also included Crater, who was the technician of the group, and Golum, the muscle man. He wanted to remain invisible to the world, which is why he preferred operating in silence. His rules were simple: he was not in the business for fame; he only wanted to steal from the rich, and he was strict about not harming women and children. He soon developed enmity with his ex-teammate, Crowbar Jr., who humiliated not just him but his entire team. His team sought revenge on each of Crowbar Jr.’s team members and established that they were the upcoming Polish gang to look out for.
When he first saw Magdalena, he could not take his eyes off her. He knew that he wanted to get close to her, and he managed to introduce himself when he met her again at a local bar. He did not share his truth with her and made her believe that he was the owner of a firm that dealt with investors. Even though Magda had reasons to doubt the stranger, she felt deeply attracted to him. When she agreed to meet him at his place, he bought a house that had a garden just to impress her. While he was rising to the top in the gangster world, his parents believed that he worked at a car repair shop. His father offered him his taxi to help him earn a better living now that he was in a relationship. He used the taxi to conduct business without raising suspicion. By now, Magdalena knew that her partner was involved in shady business, but she chose to live in denial all her life.
What Changed Walden?
Walden was the right-hand man of the protagonist. He was a young man, ready to tackle anyone who dared to question his mentor. When Marian offered a large sum of money that required the kidnapping of a child, the protagonist rejected the deal, but Walden believed that the offer was worth taking. There was a primary difference in the way they viewed the world, though the protagonist always tried to teach him the necessity of rules, even in the kind of business they were in. Walden kidnapped and presented Crowbar Jr. as a way to congratulate his mentor on his wedding. The protagonist realized that Walden could go to any extent to show his affection. He knew that his mentor was desperately looking for a way to get back at Crowbar Jr., and he delivered. On the day of his wedding, he murdered Crowbar Jr. and went on to recite his wedding vows later. On his wedding day, he felt overwhelmed by the love and affection that his gang members and wife showered upon him. Later, at the wedding party, Walden met Violetta, and amidst the alcohol and cocaine, they fell in love.
As the gang became more popular, Walden got addicted to cocaine and was always hyperventilating. He was hellbent on seeking revenge for the smallest of inconveniences, and it was always his mentor who stopped him from making wrong decisions. The protagonist was soon introduced to Daniel, the last-standing gangster of the Proszkow gang, whose appearance was extremely deceptive. Daniel wanted the protagonist to join his group, but before that, he needed him to clean the streets of gangsters who were bringing unwanted attention to their business as a result of their loudmouth. Walden helped his mentor carry out Daniel’s order, but in the process, he started enjoying taking lives. He believed that no matter how many people he murdered, the day he was caught, he would receive a life sentence, so till then, he wanted to enjoy the thrill that he got from killing. Walden could not trust Daniel because he used to be a police snitch. He believed that they could easily ruin Daniel and get to the top without his help. Walden knew no boundaries or rules, and the protagonist was scared of the monster he had created.
‘How I Became A Gangster’ Ending Explained: What Happened To Walden In The End? Did The Protagonist Survive?
While Daniel wanted him to clean the streets, the CBI cops advised him to share details of the notorious gangsters he knew about in exchange for a safety net. The protagonist could not imagine sharing information with the police; he could not live with himself knowing that he had ratted out the police. Daniel promised the protagonist that if he managed to clean the streets and take care of a 500-kg shipment of coke, he would be handed over the distribution duty. Before he could take on the role, he was arrested, not for being a gang leader but because of an ancient statue that the old couple left behind before moving out of the house. Walden believed that Daniel was somehow involved in his mentor’s arrest. He was desperate to own the world, and he simply wanted his mentor to support him. The protagonist advised him to stay away from Daniel and to go on a vacation away from the country. But Walden was beyond his control now. The protagonist was released from prison once he could prove that the statue did not belong to him and that he was not responsible for the crime.
After his release from prison, Daniel offered him a 10% share of his profits in return for being his right-hand man and forming his security team. But before all that, he was instructed to get rid of Walden. He managed to find Walden, and he shot those who came in his way. With a few gunshots, he established that he had killed Walden. Daniel now trusted him and accompanied him to the site where the 500 kilograms of cocaine were delivered. After they reached there, the protagonist expressed his doubt regarding the place and asked Daniel to run. Soon, the police entered the scene to seize the drugs. Though later, we learn that it was orchestrated by the protagonist to get back at Daniel; he hired men to dress as police and get the cocaine. He could not trust Daniel after he forced him to kill Walden. We get to know that the protagonist had not killed Walden; instead, he had injected a pacifying drug to make Daniel believe he was dead. He took a cut of the cocaine his men managed to get hold of and sailed on a ship with his wife, Walden, and Violetta. When Walden regained his senses and realized that they were escaping from Poland, he could not accept it. He always believed that he would be punished for his crimes one day or another. He did not wish to start again; he simply wanted to get rid of the life he was living and be punished for the mistakes he had made. He had killed a child while doing his job, and he could never forgive himself for it. Unable to live with his conscience, Walden shot himself in the face and died on the ship.
The protagonist went back to Poland with his family and served the sentence for his crime. After spending years in prison, he was finally released. Meanwhile, Daniel published a book discussing the life of the protagonist. He tried to portray himself as the good guy who willfully destroyed drugs to protect the younger generation. Daniel had always been someone who only cared about himself, and he could snitch and even write a book to save his life. The fact that Daniel was not in prison and had managed to publish a book indicates that he found a way to free himself and put the entire blame for the operation on the protagonist. By bringing the lives of the Polish mafia to light, he destroyed their business, and the release of the protagonist in a way indicates that maybe he will find a way to get back at Daniel. “How I Became a Gangster” is said to be based on real events that occurred within the Polish mafia. The people and the events are said to be inspired by reality, but the protagonist remains an unnamed character, and maybe he is an amalgamation of several mafia figures who tried to find humanity even in their criminal lifestyle.
“How I Became A Gangster” is a 2023 Drama Thriller film directed by Maciej Kawulski.