Luca Brasi is a minor antagonist in the Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather, as well as its 1972 film adaptation. In the film, he was portrayed by Lenny Montana.
In The Godfather, Luca Brasi was a feared personal enforcer for the Corleone family, and he was known as one of the most dangerous men in the eastern underworld. Fluent in Italian and able to handle himself in any fight, he had a dark reputation among the underworld as a savage killer.
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. 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 he 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. Another early incident involved Brasi killing off 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 hacked one of them to pieces with an axe. When he went to finish off the other one, he found that the man had gone through a shock convulsion and choked to death on the towel.
Later in the novel, Michael learns that, years earlier, Brasi had impregnated a young Irish prostitute and later murdered her. On the day of his daughter's birth, he forced the midwife, under pain of death, to hurl the child into a furnace, an act for which she never forgave herself. The midwife, who describes Brasi as an unholy demon, went to Don Corleone for protection, and he covered up Brasi's crime. With this, the Don earned Brasi's undying service and loyalty.
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 surprised 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.
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."
Appearances in other media
Luca Brasi appears early on in The Godfather: The Game. Luca is assigned by the Godfather to rescue the protagonist, Aldo Trapani, from a brutal gang and train him. Luca functions as a "trainer" for the player, showing how to perform various game functions, such as shooting and punching. The player is a witness to Brasi's eventual death and must escape in order to inform the family.
Luca is also mentioned by Michael Corleone in the videogame version of The Godfather Part II, where the player, Dominic, acquires Luca's old apartment.