Netflix’s French crime show ‘Blood Coast’ charts a story about a city caught in the middle of a violent gang war that routinely results in death and destruction. As negative sentiments continue to brew between Franck Murillo, an old gangster with a new drug dealing business, and Ali Saïdi, Marseille’s most powerful gangster, it is up to the police department headed by Captain Lyès Benamar to stop their rivalry from causing the city irreversible damage.
Caught in a cyclic battle for revenge, Ali and Murillo continue to recklessly go after each other with little regard for the legal repercussions. While Murillo relies on his strategically faked death, Ali has bought the local police, allowing him dangerous access to certain rights and privileges. As such, their rash actions directly decide the show’s thrilling nature, compelling the cops to react accordingly. However, where Ali and Murillo’s existence is taken as a given in-universe, how much truth is actually behind them in real life?
Ali Saïdi, Franck Murillo, and Gangs in Marseille
Neither Ali Saïdi nor Franck Murillo have any basis in real-life French gangsters from Marseille. Due to the fictional nature of ‘Blood Coast,’ the characters and events depicted within the show are similarly of fictitious origins. However, in Ali Saïdi and Franck Murillo’s case, their characters also have some origin in reality since the base premise of their feud stems from the real-life gang wars that plague the streets of Marseille.
As such, even though Ali and Murillo don’t have specific individuals after which their personas were molded, Marseille’s general criminally fraught atmosphere likely played a role in their creation. For instance, since the start of 2023, the city saw a harsh spike in shootings, which have resulted in violent deaths. A little more than halfway through the year, the death toll reached 30 across 68 shootings. Seven of these people died in the month of August alone.
The authorities went on to identify the leaders behind these violent instances and arrived at the conclusion of DZ Mafia and the other Yoda’s involvement, who both head two criminal networks in Marseille and sport heavy power. While their clash is reported to be a drug war, it also had ties to the housing estate market. Furthermore, their feud reached such an extreme that some of their relatives even got caught in the crossfires after being targeted all the way in Spain.
However, the same is in only one example in a line of minor similarities between the show’s depiction of violent gang wars in Marseille and the city’s reality. In 2021, another drug gang war led to numerous murders, including the death of a 14-year-old child. Moreover, these gangs even forced young kids to do their bidding through torture and kidnapping, which compelled people to give in to violence.
Consequently, viewers can find many instances of crime in Marseille, which may bear an easy resemblance to Ali and Murillo’s narratives in ‘Blood Coast.’ Therefore, it’s possible that the show’s creators may have taken some inspiration from local news updates to get an idea of how Marseille’s criminal underbelly operated. In fact, Olivier Marchal, who directed a majority of the show’s episodes, has been a resident of the city for a while and is bound to hear about the local gangsters occasionally. Thus, the show maintains a connection to real-life crime through Ali and Murillo’s storylines.
However, neither character has a direct basis in any real-life criminal personality that operates within Marseille. Ali and Murillo’s characters stand on their own as characters crafted to serve their stories, save for a few momentary similarities they seem to share with Marseille’s gangsters. However, even those similarities are only a product of the creators’ attempt to draw from reality for the show’s criminal aspects. Thus, ultimately, both characters remain works of fiction credited to the show’s creator, Kamel Guemra, alongside the many screenwriters and directors who shaped the show’s final narrative.