- "Don Corleone, I am honoured and grateful that you have invited me to your home today on the day of your daughters wedding...and I hope that their first child, be a masculine child."
- ―Luca Brasi[src]
- "There are men in this world who go about demanding to be killed. They argue in gambling games; they jump out of their cars in a rage if someone so much as scratches their fender. These people wander through the streets calling out "Kill me, kill me." Luca Brasi was such a man. And since he wasn't scared of death, and in fact, looked for it... I made him my weapon. Because I was the only person in the world that he truly hoped would not kill him. "
- ―Vito Corleone[src]
Born to an Italian family, 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 the man impregnating his mother.
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 "None of that race should 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 she fled from the house sobbing. Filomena later left for Sicily, where she was employed by Lionele Tommasino. Kelly died that evening.
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, in the end he was rescued from prison by Vito Corleone, who saw Brasi as a potential asset. However, after hearing of his arrest, Luca's mother committed suicide.
The tales of Brasi's prowess soon became legend. One such 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 leisurely hacked one of them to pieces with a fireaxe. 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.
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 recieved 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.
- "I'm a little worried about this Sollozzo fella. I want you to find out what's under his fingernails. Go to the Tattaglias, make them think that you're not too happy with our family...find out what you can."
- ―Vito Corleone[src]
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's 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."
Personality and traitsEdit
Luca was shown to be the "strong, silent type", as he very little spoke. When he did it was either to Don Vito, his family, or when he did a job that required him to speak. He was also shown to be very sadistic when it came to killing, as he once threw a baby, from the woman he impregnated, into an oven. He was strong but also wise, as he brought a bullet-proof vest with him everywhere. This would, however, be useless as he was strangled to death with a garrote wire. He was not as bright as he was street smart, and he would often have to rehearse what he said to someone before speaking with them.
The Family Corleone seems to suggest that Brasi was originally quite intelligent, before his suicide attempt caused him brain damage. This is most likely an attempt to reconcile the differences between the film and book versions of the character.
In the video gameEdit
In the video game, Luca Brasi recruits Aldo Trapani, son of former enforcer Johnny Trapani, as his protege, and has Trapani accompany him in case things go awry. Luca's murder is avenged by Aldo Trapani, who is unable to report the death to the Corleones until the following morning.
Luca Brasi is loosely based on Willie Moretti, who allegedly once threatened a bandleader to release Frank Sinatra in a similar way as Brasi threatened Les Halley to release Fontane. Moretti was also Frank Costello's strong-arm.
Behind the scenesEdit
While Luca is often labelled as an enforcer, the novel describes that he has more power and respect than the average enforcer. In the novel both he and Al Neri are labelled as "special" and that they are the most trusted, most loyal, deadliest and the most feared member of the family. After the shooting of Vito even Sonny voices his concern regarding Luca when they have difficulty contacting him. According to The Godfather Returns, it was Luca Brasi who sneaked into the Woltz mansion and kills, then decapitates Khartoum and places the head in Jack Woltz's bed.