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F.I.S.T. (1978)

Sylvester Stallone , Rod Steiger , Norman Jewison  |  PG |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 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: 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BMY2N8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,419 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "F.I.S.T." on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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

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).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 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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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THIS F.I.S.T. LACKS ROCKY'S PUNCH! February 17, 2008
It's hard to believe I never watched this movie before recently. I had caught a few minutes of it here and there on TV over the years but, never bothered to watch it through. For the most part the story itself is compelling enough but, the characters seem one dimensional and after a good first half the characters, not the story make the film drag. It's a shame because the film's not bad but, it's pretty forgettable. Like the movie 'Hoffa' which this film is obviously emulating it has an unsatisfying ending, this one being way too abrupt! I had invested 2 1/2 hours in this mediocre film and it just ended badly! It's OK as I did enjoy the film but, I doubt I will ever watch it again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stallone's most ambitious film December 18, 2010
What is it about some directors and stars that make them follow up their biggest hits with misleadingly titled movies that just set them up for audience disappointment? Audiences seeing a film called Sorcerer from the director of The Exorcist advertised with a grimacing statue probably weren't too thrilled to find a thriller about truck drivers in South America and an audience lured into a film called F.I.S.T. by posters of Sly Stallone, fresh from Rocky, wielding an axe handle at the head of a mob probably weren't best pleased to find they'd bought a ticket to a drama about the growth and corruption of the American union movement. F.I.S.T. in this case stands for Federal Inter-State truckers - not, absolutely not, the Teamsters - and Stallone plays the union organiser who brings the mob in to win a strike only to find he can't get them out who absolutely isn't Jimmy Hoffa even if he does end up as a question mark on a bumper sticker.

Directed by Norman Jewison from a Joe Esterhas script with cinematography by Lazlo Kovacs, it's an admirably ambitious film. Charting the union from its days as hungry men with no rights to fat men by the pool with young girls who aren't their wives as the small group of bullied workers in the 30s grows into the biggest bully on the block by the 60s when Stallone comes up against Rod Steiger's racket busting senator, it's strangely lacking in punch or impact. There are good scenes and some inspired casting - not least Kevin Conway in the kind of role Brian Donlevy would have played in the 30s and 40s - but it often feels flat and underdeveloped. Jewison manages to keep Steiger and Peter Boyle's performances in check, but he's less successful with Stallone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 for one of Sly's best performances June 5, 2007
By Phil S.
Format:VHS Tape
The storyline is somewhat predictable, but Stallone's performance...was not. [Correct me if I'm wrong], but if this movie followed "Paradise Alley", and you sat slack-jawed in that popcorn palace somewhere in Bergen County, N.J., witnessing a cultural event not exactly designed to inspire, his acting will floor you sooner than a Rocky upper-cut. He seems to have aged ten years (in movie years) and stays in character, in a non-*character* role!
In only one scene do we see encounter any off-beat Balboa-isms, the scene in which he exchanges romantic glances with Melinda Dillon. Perhaps his most powerful scene occurs in Washington, DC, as he refuses to back-down in a National contract conference. This time, the guy-from-the-streets-turned-Union Leader, overplays his hand, and the whole game begins to break down.
It all comes apart with a shattering thud: his terrible judgement in believing in bad people, believing that some illegality was acceptable if it meant supporting his Union - just an uncomfortable sacrifice on his part; in ways revealing (to the viewer, not the character) his own flaw as an individual capable of violence.
Tony Lo Bianco gives an amazing career performance, as his "outside help", who becomes a bottomless pit of helping himself to the fruits of the labor of many blue-collar workers.
Rod Steiger and Peter Boyle, like Sly and Tony, also deliver performances one might describe as drammatically over-the-top.
Good attention period detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Okay movie about the labor movement. May 6, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I purchased this movie because parts of this were produced in the city of Dubuque,Iowa some 30 years ago. The movie was released after the first Rocky movie came out. Critics were lukewarm to this movie but I thought Sly Stallone gave an okay performance as Johnny Kovac, a man instrumental with the Federation of Inter State Truckers, sort of like the Teamsters. The movie follows Kovac in his years working in a loading dock,followed by a strike and the eventual leadership of his union into the 1950's to his death. Good acting but too bad the movie didn't get the recognition it deserved.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Go UNIONS
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... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Pollywalnuts
4.0 out of 5 stars a first class story about the birth of organized labor in the usa
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... Read more
Published 26 days ago by daddy g
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see!
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. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Challenger-99
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 5 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 6 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 8 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 11 months ago by Rhonda King
3.0 out of 5 stars FIST
I bought this for my husband. He said he wanted it. We watched it once. The disc works just fine.
Published 13 months ago by J. Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT MOVIE
This was a great story and sly did great job in the character. A bit different from his usual roles but he succeeded very well.
Published 13 months ago by teddybear
4.0 out of 5 stars Hoffa based film - Stallone's second best work!!
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. Read more
Published on May 11, 2011 by Charles D. Blanchard
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