Closely paralleling history, the film follows the rise and fall of Johnny 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.
- " F.I.S.T. is another in a long line of well-made films that excel in their particulars, even if they fall a little short as complete, complex pieces of cinema. " – Noel Murray
- " F.I.S.T. is to the labor movement in the United States what All the King's Men was to an era in American politics. " – Variety Staff
- " F.I.S.T. is a big movie that benefits more from the accumulation of small, ordinary detail than from any particular wit or inspiration of vision. It's also played with great conviction by its huge cast. " – Vincent Canby