Luca Brasi is a fictional character from the Godfather movie and novel, where was one of Vito Corleone's most trusted enforcers. Fluent in Italian and able to handle himself in any fight, he had a dark reputation among the underworld as a savage killer.
Born to an Italian family in Rhode Island, Luca had an unhappy childhood due to an alcoholic father who would frequently beat both him and his mother until Luca decided he had had enough and killed his father with a two by four, shortly after the violent man had induced a miscarriage in his wife by stabbing her in the abdomen. Soon after, Luca killed one of his neighbours, Mr. Lowry by pushing him off the roof in revenge for impregnating his mother.
In the early 1930s, Brasi had become a feared street enforcer, one of the few men who did not run in with another gang, instead operating with a handful of stick-up merchants such as Luigi Battaglia.
Around this time he met Kelly O'Rourke, who became his girlfriend. Luca was incredibly possesive of her (nearly killing Tom Hagen for sleeping with her) and sometimes beat her up, but also had a strange, deep affection for her.
However, when she became pregnant, Luca attempted to force her to have an abortion, which she refused. On the day of his son's birth, he forced the midwife, Filomena under pain of death, to hurl his own son into a furnace, an act for which she never forgave herself, describing him as an unholy demon that night. He claimed that "I don't want any of that race to live." It was unknown whether he meant that it was because the child was half Irish, born of a prostitute, or that it was his child, and felt that he was doing the world a favor by removing his bloodline from it. Filomena was at first reluctant, but Luca slashed her arm with a knife and then she obliged and tossed it in the furnace. After she did this, Filomena fled from the house sobbing. Filomena later left for Sicily, where she was employed by Don Tommasino. He murdered Kelly several hours later.
After that night, Brasi allowed himself to be arrested, after first taking an overdose of pills that left him with permanent brain damage, slowing his speech and thought patterns. He tried to kill himself in his cell with a broken bottle by slashing his throat open but he didn't die. Don Vito Corleone intervened, covering up Brasi's crime and earning Brasi's undying service and loyalty.
The tales of Brasi's prowess soon became legend. One such incident involved Brasi killing off Benny Amato and Joey Daniello, two of Al Capone's henchmen hired to kill Don Corleone. Brasi subdued both of them and tied and gagged them with towels stuffed in their mouths. He then leisurely hacked Amato to pieces with an axe. When he went to finish off Daniello he found that he had gone through a shock convulsion and choked to death on the towel.
Brasi's talent, it was said, was that he could do a job, or murder all by himself, without confederates or backup who might rat him out. Since Luca made sure to leave no witnesses either, this made a criminal conviction almost impossible. He is also known for killing, in two weeks, six men who attempted to kill Don Corleone at a festival. One of their men had managed to put the Don in the hospital, which prompted Luca's killing spree, and he might have continued had Vito not recovered enough to call him off. These six deaths ended the famous "Olive Oil War". His almost fanatical loyalty to Don Corleone was unquestioned, and was said to have killed a Corleone soldier just for making the Corleone family look bad. Brasi often claimed that he'd sooner kill himself than betray the Godfather. Since Vito was the only one who could make Brasi stop a killing spree, this made the Godfather a far more risky Don to attempt killing than the others.
At Connie's wedding, Michael Corleone explains to his then girlfriend Kay Adams, the story of how Don Corleone helped his godson Johnny Fontane. Michael explains that his father went to convince bandleader Les Halley to release Johnny from a personal service contract that was holding back Johnny's singing career. After refusing an offer of $10,000 Don Corleone returned the next day with Luca Brasi and within an hour the bandleader signed a release for a second offer of only $1,000. Luca Brasi had held a gun to the bandleader's head while Don Corleone assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the release contract.
Brasi did not expect to be invited to the wedding of the Don's daughter, since he normally avoided public contact with the Don to protect the Godfather's reputation. Luca was very suprised and grateful when he received an invitation, and spent a great deal of time deciding on how best to pay his respects to his mafia benefactor. He gave a large sum for Connie's bridal purse directly to Vito, which was said to be the largest given by any of the guests. At the wedding he acted rather strange; reciting what he would say to the Don when he went in to thank him.
Shortly before Vito Corleone is shot, Brasi was summoned by the Don, who intends to draw out rival mobster Virgil Sollozzo and the rest of the Don's enemies by having Luca pretend he had switched allegiances. Luca hung around Bruno Tattaglia's nightclub, eventually going to bed with one of his bargirls and complaining about not making much money, knowing that word would eventually get back to Bruno. When Bruno offers a meeting, Luca drives to the meeting, wearing a bulletproof vest.
Luca proudly voices his loyalty to Sollozzo whilst discussing a deal with him, telling him that he'd never go against Don Corleone, that he's a man he respects. Sollozzo, after promising friendship, a job, and $50,000, then rams a knife into Luca's hand, pinning it to the bar as an assassin garrottes him from behind. With Brasi dead, Sollozzo's men were free to attempt a hit on Don Corleone without fear of Luca hunting them down later. After Vito is shot, Sonny and the rest of the Corleones fail to contact Luca, but think this means that the brutal enforcer is already out looking for reprisal, and Sonny feels confident that his father's would-be assassins will soon be dead. A Sicilian message is later sent to the Corleone family: a fish wrapped in Brasi's bulletproof vest. The meaning is made clear to the Corleones: "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes."
Brasi's role as personal enforcer/bodyguard to the Don was later filled by Al Neri. Tom Hagen once said to Michael following the completion of Neri's training, "Well, now you've got your Luca."