Action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme is the star of a new trailer — make that tractor-trailer. The actor performs one of his famous splits in a new short film for Volvo Trucks, and the way he does it is certainly why the video shot past 7 million views in just a couple days.
As the video starts, there's a tight shot of Van Damme with a voiceover from the 53-year-old Belgian actor. "I've had my ups and downs. My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That's what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection."
The camera pulls back off Van Damme's face and we see that he's standing on the rear-view mirrors of two side-by-side trucks. The trucks are moving backward on what appears to be a desert runway.
Van Damme, who famously did the splits in such memorable movies as "Bloodsport," tells us he has "a pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics, and a mindset to master the most epic of splits."
And then we see that the two tractor trailers are moving apart, and Van Damme's legs are spreading with them. This continues until Van Damme is in a full-on split across about a 6- or 7-foot gap.
Volvo tells us in the video and on its website that the whole scary stunt is only possible because of its Dynamic Steering, which "provides perfect directional stability." And Marie Vassiliadis, with Volvo Trucks media relations, told TODAY.com on Friday, "The stunt is real and shot in one take without any breaks. There was safety equipment in place which is not visible in the film."
Comments on the YouTube video and on Twitter began to question whether the film was actually shot in reverse, and Van Damme started in a split position. But Vassiliadis countered those claims.
"The stunt is performed in the way it is shown, i.e. the trucks are driven in reverse," Vassiliadis said via email. "The purpose of the film is to show the technology that makes it possible to reverse a truck like this."
The Volvo Trucks Twitter feed, which is doing a great job of thanking everyone in the world for sharing the video, also responded to naysayers.
In another related video off the Volvo Trucks YouTube page, Van Damme chats with Jan-Inge Svensson, the engineer behind the steering system's software. The two play with toy 18-wheelers, discuss the planned stunt, and take a leisurely drive. "Before doing the split between the trucks, I saw the storyboard and thought it looked amazing," Van Damme said in a Volvo statement. "It's very majestic and very powerful."
The Enya song "Only Time" is used in the video, and it includes the lyric, "Who can say where the road goes ...." Let's hope the answer here is "straight back."
First published November 15 2013, 7:41 AM