The stunt is so incredibly perfect that many have doubted its authenticity, but Volvo has declared that its new viral online commercial featuring actor Jean Claude Van Damme doing an epic split between two moving Volvo FM trucks is real.
"The stunt is real and is performed in just one take," Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager for the Volvo Trucks brand, told The Wall Street Journal. "It's a daring stunt but we had full control. There was never any real danger involved."
In the commercial, Van Damme first appears with his arms folded and eyes closed with the soundtrack to Enya's "Only Time" playing in the background.
"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," Van Damme begins as the camera slowly reveals him standing on the two FM trucks.
"Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics. And a mind set to master the most epic of splits," says the 53-year-old in the commercial before revealing the epic split.
The ad, which was posted to YouTube a week ago, had been viewed over 37 million times as of Wednesday evening and viewers have been praising its simplicity and precision.
"I've got a bit of a crush now, actually. I love Volvo Trucks. This is perfectly executed example of branding consistency, neural marketing, storytelling, competitive differentiation delivered in a format that is worth watching a 100x over. Thank you Mr. Van Damme. And thank you to the marketing team at Volvo Trucks," wrote Karen Lewis.
"You cannot ask for anything more: One minute of sheer perfection! Please! Someone unplug me; I've seen this some 30 times already. And, d**n, it's perfect every time! Well done, Jean-Claude! You're not pretty anymore, but, man, how truly beautiful you became," wrote Diana Mona Ghius.
Andreas Nilsson, the director of the video, explained to The Wall Street Journal that while Van Damme's feet weren't secured to the mirrors in the video, they were placed on small platforms built on the side mirrors of the trucks. He was also hooked to safety lines that aren't visible in the film.
"We had him rigged so that if he would fall off he wouldn't die obviously. We didn't want to be responsible for killing the Muscles from Brussels."
The filming of the video took place on a closed-off airstrip in Spain called Ciudad Real. Before filming began, the production team rehearsed the stunt for three days.
"The film you see is the first take. But obviously we had tons of rehearsals," said Nilsson said. "The tension was really high. I saw a tough stunt coordinator swell up after we nailed it. That might actually be the nicest memory from the shoot."