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Anchor Bay presents
Dakota (1988)

Walt: I think Dakota is finding himself here.
Casey: Why can't he find himself somewhere else?

- Eli Cummins, Jordan Burton

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: Lou Diamond Philips, Eli Cummins, Jordan Burton, Herta Ware
Other Stars: Dee Dee Norton, Leslie Mullen, Steve Ruge
Director: Fred Holmes

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG for (some language, mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:36m:03s
Release Date: February 13, 2001
UPC: 013131137996
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Dakota was a product of the late 1980s obsession with certain young actors; in this case, Lou Diamond Philips. Philips had risen to sudden, fad-like stardom from his roles in films like Stand and Deliver, La Bamba, and Young Guns. Dakota seems to have been intended as a kind of re-birth to his career (especially with its "A New Kind of Hero" tagline), but didn't seem to have the intended effect. Though painfully dated, the film actually isn't as bad as it might look. Unfortunately, it didn't really turn Philips' career in the direction of serious dramas, as the filmmakers probably wanted it to.

In the story, Philips plays Dakota, a man whose brother has just died. It is implied that Dakota is sort of the black sheep of the family and that his father, through his grief, almost wishes it had been Dakota that had died. He decides to leave his family for awhile and go on the road; he winds up in a small town, where he is immediately hassled by some local teens, gets into a fight and, in the process, almost destroys a small hamburger shack. The police lock up his motorcycle until he pays off the damages, but a local rancher decides to take on Dakota as a helper. As Dakota pays off his debt, he enters into the lives of the people he lives with as they raise race horses on their property. Included in this family is a young boy who is missing one leg and a wealthy benefactor who likes to race vintage cars.

You've probably spotted quite a few clichés, just from my description of the plot. The story is, admittedly, rife with all sorts of stereotypical elements; Dakota being the young, rugged, rebel who finds himself in a good, old-timey way on a ranch. Originality is not the strong suit of this film, but as a simple drama very linked to its time, it works well. The general idea behind the movie is how Dakota learns from the family he lives with, and how they in turn learn from him. Sounds a bit cheesy, but it certainly delivers the goods.

Dakota is a little sappy (especially the "crippled boy" angle), but it entertains in a very basic way. Lou Diamond Philips was certainly a good actor in these days and Dakota allowed him a more dramatic role without all the glamour and glitz of his previous work. It's an honorable, simple story. I could have personally done without the subplot involving the "bad teens" in town that make Dakota's life harder, but, as I said, the film does date itself with these things. Some of the acting is a little rough, but then, the cast is filled with what seems to be newer actors (for the time) and this does have the advantage of adding a realistic touch to the film.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Dakota looks very impressive, with an excellent transfer here. Very clean and sharp, the image has fantastic colors and accurate black level. The film itself is pretty grainy in some sequences, but it seems to be source print-related. Anamorphic enhancement has added obvious depth, and there are no artifacts.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Dakota uses a Pro-Logic encoded mono sound mix. While clean and clear, the audio is nothing particularly amazing. It fits the movie well and nothing is harsh or distorted. Dialogue is perfectly understandable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disc is pretty thin; only a trailer is featured. The presentation fits, though, with a replica of the original poster on the insert and some nice menus.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Dakota is a nice, quiet drama that, although unoriginal, can be enjoyed by almost anyone. Try it out on rental.


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