Jean-Claude Van Damme has made an unusual comeback with a pair of Volvos.
More than 40 million people have watched the Muscles from Brussels doing his signature split with two Volvo trucks moving in reverse on a highway, backed by Enya’s “Only Time,” that’s now gotten other celebs like Channing Tatum to spoof the stunt with their own videos (see below).
Within a week of its release on Nov. 13, JCVD’s “Epic Split” video was watched by over 25 million people, becoming the most viewed online clip that week, and spawning 50 related videos, according to tracking firm Visible Measure. As of Nov. 21, views had topped 41 million and counting, with the video expected to be among the top 10 most watched shorts online this year.
According to Visible Measures, that number was actually closer to 48.5 million, as of Nov. 21, making it second to only Volkswagen’s Darth Vader themed “The Force” Super Bowl spot, in 2011, as the most viewed auto campaign of all time. It took that ad 22 days to reach 40 million views and more than two months to reach 48.5 million. The JCVD stunt has achieved that in just nine days.
Those are all impressive numbers for an action star who’s star wattage has faded over the years since his heyday during the 1980s and early ‘90s, despite attempts at reviving his career with recent villain roles in films like “The Expendables 2” (which earned $300 million worldwide last year). His “Bloodsport” is being remade.
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But the success of Volvo’s video, which is only being shown online, could help lead to new roles for the actor after the short proves there’s still interest in his action antics — and his willingness to mock himself.
While doing the video, JCVD says in a voiceover, “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…”
Directed by Andreas Nilsson, Volvo filmed the JCVD short on a runway in Spain in one take after three days of rehearsals.
Volvo plans to produce more stunts with its trucks, especially after the success of the JCVD video.
The short was the latest in a series of videos Volvo has used to promote how easy it is to steer its new high-tech big rigs. Others have featured a woman walking a tightrope between to moving trucks heading toward a tunnel, another with a truck racing bulls in Spain, and a hamster steering one up the edge of a cliff.
They’ve been a clever way to pay attention to a type of vehicle most consumers usually don’t care or even think about while proving to other brands that they can use short clips to generate a Super Bowl sized audience for little money when upping the creativity level of their campaigns.
The Tatum spoof should help generate even more exposure for Volvo.
In that video — meant to promote Sony’s “21 Jump Street” sequel, “22 Jump Street” that lensing now, Tatum says, “I’ve had my ups and downs,” he says, while looking pensive standing on two food carts. “Being an undercover cop, that’s what made me what I am today. Surviving high school is no easy task. Neither is being a college freshman at my age. But because of this, my body is now engineered to defy the law of physics. And the mindset to master the most epic of splits.”