Is How I Became a Gangster based on a True Story?

January 7, 2023
Adam Lock 0
Features, Netflix, News, RSC Originals, Streaming Service


Is How I Became a Gangster based on a True Story? In this article, we discuss the popular Netflix Original film. 

Polish crime drama How I Became a Gangster has crept its way into the top 10 films list on Netflix, even though it was released quietly at the start of this year, without any fanfare or subsequent advertising. This surprising, small-scale Netflix Original has grown in interest seemingly overnight, coming out of nowhere to storm the charts. This has led to much discussion about the gritty drama online, and many viewers have taken to the net to investigate the film’s origins. So, is How I Became a Gangster based on a true story?

What is How I Became a Gangster on Netflix about?

Directed by Maciej Kawulski (Netflix’s 365 Days) and written by Krzysztof Gureczny, this Polish gangster movie tells the story of an unnamed, ambitious thug (played by Marcin Kowalczyk) who rises through the ranks of the Warsaw criminal underground. Our narrator starts off in the sex trafficking racket, before moving on to armed robbery and drug distribution. Then the criminal attempts to make it into the big leagues, whilst hiding all these illegal activities from his naive wife Magda (Natalia Szroeder).

Is How I Became a Gangster based on a True Story?

The Netflix Original opens with a disclaimer that states that the events within the film actually took place in real life, but some of the details have been altered for the safety of the real-life individuals involved in this criminal underworld. The film highlights the brutality of the Polish mafia, a criminal organization that reigned supreme over the nation for many years. Due to the nature of this business, the narrator remains unnamed to protect his own identity. But he is more than likely based on a real-life criminal.

Interestingly, the creators of How I Became a Gangster, also made another crime drama for Netflix, titled How I Fell in Love with a Gangster, which told the story of real-life gangster Nikodem ‘Nikos’ Skotarczak. He was a Polish mafioso prominent in the seventies, who founded the first organised crime syndicate in the country, dealing in smuggling stolen cars from Germany and Austria to Poland. Heralded as one of the greatest and most famous Polish gangsters, his life’s work and many other Polish criminals of a similar ilk more than likely influenced How I Became a Gangster.

Is How I Became a Gangster worth watching?

Even though How I Became a Gangster is growing in popularity, very few critics have reviewed the movie. Currently, only Ready Steady Cut and the Guardian have submitted reviews to Rotten Tomatoes. Both reviews are quite negative towards the film. Ready Steady Cut writer Lori C. gave the film 2.5 stars, and said that ‘While the film is full of tired tropes, and misogyny, and adds little value to the genre as a whole, it’s still a rather entertaining piece.’ The Guardian was even less enthused, giving the movie a one-star rating.

The public’s response has been a lot more encouraging though. It currently has a score of 7.0 on IMDb, from 2.9k votes. While the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, praise the film’s action sequences and leading actor. Regardless of the reviews and the criticism, this film is likely to continue to be successful, it is a violent and stylized crime drama with an 18-certificate rating that makes for entertaining viewing. The fact that it is based upon true events only adds to the experience.

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