In the original game, Vladimir Lem is first seen driving away from Jack Lupino's bombed out apartment building, signalling the opening of a brutal and bloody mob war with the Punchinello mob family. Vlad, however, was not the instigator of this war as according to a letter written by Vinnie Gognitti
, the mob had made a hit on his weapons shipments which was believed to have left the Russians too weak to fight back. It's not until much later in the game that Vladimir returns to help Max
out. After hearing about him rubbing out so many mobsters, Vlad arrives back at the hotel to give Max a lift, to propose a truce and to make him an offer he couldn't refuse. Sending Max to kill one of his former lieutenants who have crossed over to Punchinello's side. Max complies and following with Vlad's apparent code of ethics, he allows Max to use some of his heavy weaponry and promises to help whenever he wants.
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
In the time that's passed since the first game, the war between the Russians and the Italians had heated up. Thanks to Max's intervention, the Russians were able to hit back at the remnants of the Mafia harder than ever. With this fight back, Vladimir became a much more successful man. Now preferring to wear expensive suits and running the old Ragna Rock
nightclub, renamed Vodka
, Lem is on top of the world. But he soon gets greedy and sets out to exterminate the mob completely and run the underworld. This goes totally against Max's ethos as a police officer but Vlad already knows and sets out to take him down too, totally nixing the relationship they formed in the previous game. On his quest to take control, Vladimir had removed Gognitti and formed a relationship with Detective Winterson
so the only real problem he believed he had left were the Inner Circle
or, what was left: Alfred Woden
. Not considering that Max was aware of his betrayal, Vlad heads to Woden's mansion expecting to quickly exterminate him, but instead, has his final showdown with Max. Being chased by Payne up to the roof, Lem has nowhere to go and dies in explosive fashion, but not before telling Max, dearest of all his friends, that he was supposed to be the hero.