STUDIO: New Line Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 97 Minutes
• Commentary with Rick Schroder, Tim McGraw and Jimmy Gambina
“It’s Rocky, but the main character is a Native American, there’s a lot more angst, and the fight scenes are impossible to follow!”
Rick Schroder, Eddie Spears, Julia Jones, Russell Means, “Pooch” Marion Hall, Wayne Knight, and Tim McGraw.
Black Cloud is a Navajo Indian who happens to be a natural talent when it comes to boxing. He has the opportunity to fight for a spot on the Olympic team in Las Vegas, but his own personal demons continue to hold him back. He struggles to deal with his self-hatred over being a mixed blood Indian and the destructive behavior of those around him. Eventually he must choose between letting his problems pull him down or finally growing up as a person and punching people in the head for his country.
Rick Schroder knows what the audience wants – Rick Schroder getting brutalized.
For a film that was a mere blip on the radar in limited release, New Line didn’t skimp on the presentation. The video quality of Black Cloud is great, and the film offers 5.1 surround and DTS tracks. The only problem with the presentation is the animated menus, which take a bit too long to stop animating and allow the viewer to select something. I like watching rolling clouds as much as anyone, but I could do without them appearing in every single menu and sub-menu.
The only extra of note is the commentary track. Rick Schroder is the only one with much to add, seeing as he wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film. Boxing coach Jimmy Gambina also sits in on the track to comment on the boxing scenes, a wasted effort when the scenes are this unrealistic. Tim McGraw is included on the commentary as well, presumably to lure country music fans into buying this package.
He put up a spirited effort, but fell to the mighty Bald Bull charge like all the rest.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a troubled fighter comes to grips with his own life and overcomes trials and tribulations to win the big one. If it’s too much to create an original or compelling boxing film, I think the least I can ask for is that the boxing scenes be entertaining. Unfortunately, Black Cloud is plagued by the same problem that most modern sports movies have. All shots of the sports action are in quick, close-up cuts that make it almost impossible to follow the action or get a sense of who is winning or losing.
Another problem with the film is that the main character is just plain unlikable. For a character to be a true underdog, he at least needs to be appealing enough for the audience to get behind him. Black Cloud continually alienates everyone around him and in the process alienates the viewer. It’s also worth noting that Black Cloud is much like Rocky and Van Damme in that he powers up by letting himself get punched in the head for most of the round. I’ll never understand how that one works.
Above: Tim McGraw is outacted by his hat.
Tim McGraw seems to have been included in the film just so Schroder could include some of his music without paying for it. Either that or the casting director was really impressed with his ability to stare into space and deliver his lines in monotone. One of the most bizarre scenes in the film comes when Black Cloud and his girlfriend go to apply for housing, where Wayne Knight tries to pick up the girlfriend and spews racist remarks about Indians. This scene encapsulates the film’s weak efforts to handle complex issues with all the subtlety of a jackhammer.
Black Cloud can’t pull off its dramatic scenes or its boxing scenes, making it both a failure as a drama and as a sports movie. Just another in a long line of mediocore sports films destined to fade away in obscurity.