Dakota (1988)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Dee Dee Norton
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

’Dakota’ is one of those pleasant, but benign films that HBO likes to show at either 5pm or 5am. Lou Diamond Phillips stars as John Dakota, a young man who is on the run from his past. When he is arrested for fighting in a small Texas town, a local rancher, Walt Lechner (Eli Cummins) convinces the sherrif that Dakota can pay off his debt to society by coming to work on the ranch. Once he reaches the ranch (where racehorses are trained), Dakota meets Walt’s pretty daughter Molly (Dee Dee Norton) and his son Casey (Jordan Burton), who is physically challenged due to a leg amputation. Reluctantly, Dakota begins his work on the ranch. He soons learns the the owner of the ranch, Mr. Diamond (Lawrence Montaigne) has purchased an antique car for his son to drive in a cross-country race. Having experience with antique autos, Dakota agrees to help prepare the car. Although his original plan was to pay off his debt and leave, Dakota soon finds himself growing very close to Casey and falling in love with Molly. Unfortunately, Dakota knows that his past will soon be catching up with him, and he must decided whether to stay with the Lechners or continuing his life of running away.

’Dakota’ is one of those films that has come along to tell a story and nothing else. It doesn’t try to dazzle us with style or pizzazz, it just offers us believable characters in a slice of life setting, and goes about telling its tale. True, the fact that Dakota gets in trouble with the law simply because he’s a stranger is an incredibly hackneyed plot device, but that’s forgivable. If anything, the film’s biggest flaw is presenting Dakota as a person who can be everything to everyone; that was going a bit too far. Still, this is an entertaining little movie that little violence or profanity and would be appropriate for family viewing. Lou Diamond Phillips, an actor who doesn’t get nearly enough work, is very good in the title role, playing a character that’s very different from most anything else that he’s done.

’Dakota’ is available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain at times. There are hardly any noticable defects seen from the source print. The colors are bold and true, with the green grass of the horse farm looking especially breathtaking. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital Mono mix, which yields clear and audible dialogue, yet without any hiss or background noise. The only extra on the DVD is the theatrical trailer for the film, which has been letterboxed at 1.85:1.