I'm a big fan of Rick Schroder's acting in such programs as "Lonesome Dove" and "NYPD Blue," so I really wanted to like "Black Cloud," his debut as a director/screenwriter, a lot more than I did. The film's not terrible, but it is something of a disappointment. To begin with, Schroder did himself no favors by making a boxing movie at the same time that two other actors-turned-directors, Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard, released veritable masterpieces of that genre. And then, though Schroder the director shows confidence and visual flair, Schroder the screenwriter doesn't seem quite sure of the story he wants to tell. Does he want a rousing boxing flick in which the underdog triumphs a' la "Rocky," or a searing indictment of the racism and dead-end prospects young Native Americans face? Frankly, I found the second story by far the more effective of the two, particularly as acted by Eddie Spears as the titular character, a young Navajo boxer consumed by frustration and hatred of the white man's world. (His hatred, at least in the context of the movie, is thoroughly justified; every major white character except one in this movie is an irredeemable monster.) When he sticks to Black Cloud and his plight, Schroder works strongly and sharply, and he elicits excellent performances not only from Spears as Black Cloud, but also from Julia Jones as Black Cloud's girlfriend Sammi and Nathaniel Arcand as his best pal Jimmy. (Schroder also contributes a sharp performance as Eddie, Sammi's vindictive ex-boyfriend and the father of her child.) But these scenes never really mesh with the boxing portions of the movie, so that the entire film in the end seems soft and diffuse. Schroder's directing of his actors is uneven; Russell Means is a little shaky as Black Cloud's boxing coach, and Tim McGraw is downright bad as the bigoted local sheriff. Also, Schroder makes the mistake of segueing into Navajo mysticism, which produces some embarrassingly awkward screen moments, particularly toward the end. "Black Cloud" is good enough to make me hope that Schroder will do better with his second effort, but not quite good enough for me to recommend.