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F.I.S.T. (1978)

Sylvester Stallone , Rod Steiger , Norman Jewison  |  PG |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Rod Steiger, Peter Boyle, Melinda Dillon, David Huffman
  • Directors: Norman Jewison
  • Writers: Sylvester Stallone, Joe Eszterhas
  • Producers: Norman Jewison, Gene Corman, Patrick J. Palmer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 13, 2005
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BMY2N8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,564 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "F.I.S.T." on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sylvester Stallone stars in this hard-hitting, boldly ambitious drama that powerfully reveals a significant slice of American history. As union leader Johnny Kovak, Stallone's performance confirmed his stature as one of Hollywood's hottest stars. Closely paralleling history, the film follows the rise and fall of Kovak, from his beginnings as an idealistic blue-collar worker to his final position as head of one of the country's most powerful unions: the Federation of Inter-State Truckers. But there are no unscarred heroes in this world. To achieve his dream of justice for the working man, Kovak must accept the muscle of organized crime. Ultimately, F.I.S.T. is a story of idealism corrupted and betrayed. Oscar® winner Rod Steiger (1967 Best Actor, In the Heat of the Night), Peter Boyle and Brian Dennehy are featured in the fine supporting cast. Directed by Norman Jewison, with Laszlo Kovac's darkly moody cinematography and a heroic score by Rocky composer Bill Conti, F.I.S.T. is "a particularly American kind of epic" (Vincent Canby, The New York Times).

Considering that Sylvester Stallone's first film of any real distinction was Rocky, an Academy Award winner for best picture and an instant classic, it's a safe bet that he had free rein when it came to his next project. In F.I.S.T. (released in 1978), he chose a vehicle that matched him with a big-time director (Norman Jewison of In the Heat of the Night and The Thomas Crown Affair renown), a screenwriter on the verge of stardom (Joe Eszterhas, whose future would include Flashdance and Basic Instinct), and veteran actors like Rod Steiger, Peter Boyle, and Tony Lo Bianco. Yet while F.I.S.T. is filmmaking on a grand scale, it also has the underlying themes that made the Rocky Balboa saga such a hit, particularly the plight of the common man as he struggles to maintain his dignity in the face of daunting odds. Stallone portrays Johnny Kovak, a blue-collar worker in late 1930s Cleveland who joins the nascent Federation of Inter-State Truckers (the Teamsters, basically) and rises up through the ranks until, a couple of decades later, he becomes the union's head honcho. Along the way, his ambitions lead to an alliance with organized crime, and while Kovak is an essentially decent fellow, the compromises he's made eventually catch up to him in the form of an investigation by a grandstanding, blowhard U.S. Senator (Steiger) and big trouble with an oily mob boss (Lo Bianco). All of that takes quite a while to play out; at 145 minutes, the movie is too long, especially considering that Jewison and Eszterhas (Stallone co-wrote the script) take an approach that's no more nuanced and subtle than, well, a flying fist. It also seems somewhat dated; viewing it now, in an era when CGI and other effects wizardry would have greatly enhanced some of the bigger scenes (a truckers rally in Washington, confrontations between union members and strike-breaking thugs), one is reminded more of a '70s TV movie that the epic the filmmakers clearly intended to create. The DVD includes no extras. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Film!!!!!! November 12, 2007
At some point in his career Sly became "Stallone" and made easy (money making) choices. Thankfully with his recent "Rocky Balboa" he is working at recapturing the "good" work that he did..and F.I.S.T. is the best. A fictionalized work about Jimmy Hoffa, Stallone's acting (and that of the other performers) is superb. He even gains weight to go from the young immigrant to the well fed union boss.
I do not know why this is not remembered...everytime I watch it I see parts of "The Godfather," and the basis of a great American rise-fall-struggle story. I am so happy this is on DVD and I pray people will discover the great film (plot, dialoge, acting, production) that this until now forgotten gem really is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hoffa based film - Stallone's second best work!! May 11, 2011
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When FIST came out in 1978, I had the opportunity to see it in the theaters. It was just two years after ROCKY and everyone knew the name Sylvester Stallone. The film is fictional but loosely based on the life of Jimmy Hoffa, the union leader whose relationship with powerful underworld figures ultimately led to his downfall and eventual murder in 1975.

The film is powerfully acted by Stallone, as the fictional union leader Johnny Kovak. Stallone gives perhaps his best performance after Rocky. The supporting players include Rod Steiger, as Senator Madison, who investigates possible mafia ties between Kovak and Babe Milano, played by Tony LoBianco. This is based on the Hoffa Kennedy fued in the late fifties that lasted well into the Kennedy presidency where Senator Bobby Kennedy soon to become Attorney General never let up on his efforts to get Hoffa at whatever cost.

FIST begins in 1937 where Johnny Kovak working in a warehouse begins to witness the abuse by the bosses against the workers, including working longer hours, docking pay and no compensation. This leads to Kovak and his friend Abe Belkin, played with compassion and courage by David Huffman, one of our most underrated actors, to join the Federation of Interstate Truckers (F.I.S.T.). The next 20 years in the film follows Johnny's rise to the presidency of the union and his relationship with mafia boss Anthony "Babe" Milano. Melinda Dillon plays Anna, Johnny's love interest throughout the film.

The opening credits are the largest I have ever seen in a film. They fill the screen obliterating most of the background behind them. Bill Conti's music evokes the grandeur and tragedy of power in robust swelling fashion.

Highly recommended!!

Charles Blanchard
author of Mourning Doves After The Fire
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Stallone's better performances September 15, 2006
Let me say that I've always been a Stallone fan. I've always liked such films as Rocky I & II, Copland, the original First Blood, Lock Up, and Cliffhanger. If those are your favorites as well, then I think you'll like F.I.S.T.

I won't rehash the plot here, you can read about that in Amazon's description. What I will say is that if Sly had continued in the direction of films like this, I think he'd be perceived today as being a much better actor. When he opens his heart to a role, and truly gives of himself to a character, he is capable of great things. "Rocky" and "Copland" are great examples of this. "F.I.S.T." isn't quite on a par with "Copland", and it doesn't pack the emotional weight of "Rocky", but it still deserves to be listed amoungst those films as examples of what Sly can do when he lets his guard down.

If, on the other hand, you want to see Sly's work when his guard is up and he's totally closed his inner self off to a role, go watch "Cobra" or "Rambo III". Yes, "Rambo III" has its merits, but Sly so often hid his inner gifts from the camera's eye, and that's just not what acting's about.

This is a film in which Sly truly invested himself. His performance is strong, and I hope that Hollywood gives him a chance to flex his acting muscles again sometime soon. "Rocky Balboa" is soon to be released, directed and written by Stallone. Hopefully it will remind the movie moguls that this man is has his gifts. If you'd like to see Stallone showing some of his dramatic talents, watch this film.

And Mr. Stallone, if you are reading this, please consider a film version of "Death of a Salesman". You'd be perfect for it, and you already got a standing ovation for it when you were still a young man and contemplating being an actor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see! March 5, 2014
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This was a great movie about how the greedy corporations tried to get away with not treating their workers fairly and how the union intervened. The union also had their problems with the mob but it was admirable how Stallone, who played as Jimmy Hoffa, fought for the common laborer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By daddy g
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
fist is an excellent movie. superb acting, very interesting story line. also it can be very educational for those who were unaware of how the organized labor movement began in the USA. if anything, the movie is too short! highly recommended for everyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go UNIONS March 30, 2014
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I'm a Union Guy who is for the people and by the people...You can debate this movie/subject and its cause until the end of time but one this is for sure this is one of Stallone's BEST works of ART! And I do mean ART!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie that never made it big! April 8, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie was recommended to me for some research I'm doing on the Teamsters Union and it was excellent. Somehow I don't think it was a big production in the 80s and/or I just wasn't aware of it at the time. But it's worth viewing to see how the Teamsters (thought this is a very loose translation of what really happened so they are called FIST Union) helped shape the benefits of U.S. workers today in a positive way. S. Stallone plays a version of Jimmy Hoffa getting involved with the mob and his demise.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
exactly what expected
Published 1 day ago by William Decker
5.0 out of 5 stars F.I.S.T.
I saw this when it first came out and loved it. As a retired Teamster I appreciate it even more as it is loosely based on the 20th century history of the American Labor Movement... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Zeke
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
All good..!
Published 29 days ago by dodd francis
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a good movie.
This movie was made in the town I live in. It is a good movie.
Published 2 months ago by Dale Maas
5.0 out of 5 stars A Passionate Cause
Very realistic and as believable as tthe mood at that time reflected unions to be like. There will always be pros and cons. Watch and you be the judge. Great flick!
Published 3 months ago by Joe P
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by baja
5.0 out of 5 stars masterful performance
This movie shows the need more unions and why unions had to get involved with the mob and that reason is to protect themselves from union busters and scab labor hired to... Read more
Published 11 months ago by chris
4.0 out of 5 stars Post Rocky
Excellent post-Rocky performance by Stallone. Great plot and good story flow. Worth checking out. Very different type of role for Sylvester.
Published 13 months ago by Christopher Rendine
5.0 out of 5 stars Great union movie
This is a great movie. It illustrates why unions were needed in the early 20th century and why the union's sleeping-with-the-devil (organized criminals) was a necessity to combat... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Artie Pagan
4.0 out of 5 stars Car Guy
I purchased this for a friend who once owned a vehicle like the one in F.I.S.T. He said it was "very good."
Published 17 months ago by Rhonda King
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