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F.I.S.T.

54 customer reviews

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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).

Amazon.com

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


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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 (54 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BMY2N8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,637 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "F.I.S.T." on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peterack VINE VOICE on November 12, 2007
Format: DVD
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Phil S. on June 5, 2007
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A man from the east coast on September 15, 2006
Format: DVD
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 By Charles D. Blanchard on May 11, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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