by Patrick Bromley
Warriors. Conquerors. Heroes. Brothers.
Because Conan the Barbarian was a big hit in 1982, the rest of the 1980s saw a whole bunch of pretenders to the throne -- cheap knock-offs of the Real Deal, some of which have gone on to achieve classic status themselves (like The Beastmaster) and others which remain relegated to the status of cheap knock-offs (Yor: The Hunter from the Future, the Deathstalker films). It's not surprising that my beloved Cannon Films would get in on the act, but it is a little surprising that they would still be producing Conan rip-offs all the way into 1987, when the rest of the film industry had, with few exceptions, all but abandoned fantasy as a viable genre. Having had some modest success casting bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno in their previous fantasy effort Hercules, Cannon decided to double their chances with the casting of twin bodybuilders David and Peter Paul -- aka "The Barbarian Brothers" -- in 1987's The Barbarians.
The brothers play Kutchek and Gore, twins who, as young boys, traveled with a band of entertainers known as the Ragnicks. The Ragnicks are attacked one day by evil Kadar (Richard Lynch), who kidnaps their queen Canary (Virginia Bryant) in the hopes of possessing her magical ruby. Canary hides the ruby just in time but is taken by Kadar, while Kutchek and Gore are separated. Raised as slaves and warriors, the boys are reunited as adults when they are pitted against one another in battle. Discovering they are long lost brothers, Kutchek and Gore escape and reunite with the Ragnicks, promising to recover the ruby and rescue Canary. With the help of a thief named Ismena (Eva La Rue), the brothers embark on a quest wherein they battle monsters, a dragon, and, of course, the evil Kadar. That guy's a dick.