November 15th, 2013
12:07 PM ET

Jean-Claude Van Damme's stunt goes viral

How did he do that?

To show the world how smooth their steering is designed, Volvo commisioned a stunt where action star Jean-Claude Van Damme does a split between moving trucks and it's pretty amazing.

"I've had my ups and downs," the actor says in a voice over. "My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That's what made me what I am today."

What follows is a short speech and probably one of the most amazing splits ever performed with trucks that are driving backwards. Super impressive for a man who is 53 years old, even a man known for his extreme martial arts moves.

Of course Volvo states that the stunt was performed "by professionals in a closed off area." In other words, don't try this at home folks.


Filed under: Celebrities

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Jean-Claude Dental Damme

    For those intimate moments when you would rather spit than swallow.

    November 20, 2013 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jan Eales

    I REALLY DONT CARE, ITS A BREATHTAKING AD WITH AMAZING MUSIC AND AS FAR AS DEMONSTRATING THE VOLVOS QUALITIES, ITS DONE AN AMAZING JOB. BEGONE ALL YE BARBARIANS

    November 19, 2013 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. xavier.v.m

    ola,! van damme senpre em forma a idade nao importa desde que se treine bem o corpo mente , e espirito . parabens jcvd esxlente

    November 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Special Effects Master

    It was all done with CGI, animatronics and stop-motion claymation.

    November 18, 2013 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. musiqlabstudios

    Reblogged this on musiqlabstudios and commented:
    Growing up watching van-damme and seeing this leaves me with only 1 word....LEGEND

    November 18, 2013 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. eville11

    I can do that.. hold my beer.

    November 18, 2013 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace ☮

      I'll hold your beer for ya. I will video it for ya, too. We'll post it for the rest of the Marquee bloggers to watch. Deal? :)

      November 18, 2013 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dennis

    My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Claude years ago back in Vail on a ski lift.......what a nice and humble man he was! He was skiing solo and looked very happy! :)

    November 18, 2013 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Odette

    Monsieur Van Damme, ce vidéo est absolument exceptionnel. Votre performance est tout simplement magique. Quand vous ouvrez les yeux, ceux qui sont photographes (amateurs ou professionnels) savent lire entre les lignes.....J'adore, tout simplement. Le choix de "Only time" de Enya, est magique, pour qui se donne la peine de comprendre les paroles......Merci pour ce que vous avez fait . Une de vos fans de la Ville de Québec. xx

    November 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Name*Karen Brueggeman

    I watched this over and over because it is so amazing. I have been a huge fan Jean-Claude Van Damme forever and am even more impressed with his abilities and a little jealous. This commercial is outstanding and Jean-Claude is to be applauded. ..Bravo...great skills and still eye candy. ;) -Karen

    November 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wrong video

    CNN you posted the wrong video. This is the proper one. http://youtu.be/M7FIvfx5J10 That's why the music cuts out in the video you posted.

    November 17, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mr. Butters

    Think for a moment people. The purpose of this commercial is to show the technology that allows these trucks to drive backwards with such precision. This isn't a commercial for JCVD doing stunts. Or a production company showing visual tricks. This is a Volvo commercial. SO yes, the trucks are going backwards.

    November 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • marlon

      is it possible that the trucks are going backwards because this was shot in reverse? meaning he was in split and the trucks apart then slowly came together. it would make more sense and less risky. kind of how they shot the coldplay music video for The Scientist.

      November 18, 2013 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
    • eville11

      the drivers are looking backwards... so endeth your forward driving reverse played film.

      November 18, 2013 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Michael M.

    I've been reading through the comments and am amazed at all the negative or ridiculing comments that have been posted but at the same time encouraged by all of the positive and supportive comments as well. Jean-Claude himself said he has experienced many ups and downs in life, so have we all, instead of ridiculing the man, look at yourselves first. Jean-Claude, you have my respect, not so much for this feat/commercial than as for how you've survived those ups and downs and definitely appear to be on a wonderful path now.

    November 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jean-Claude

      Again, Mike, thanks for the kind words and support, but you don't have to keep making comments in my defense here - it's getting kind of weird. I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself.

      Thanks again though.

      Regards,

      J.C.

      November 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    You are the best of the best J.C. All the best and new roles .God bless you my hero . I'm very respect you.
    Regards,
    Mike

    November 17, 2013 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Jean-Claude

      You are so kind, Mike, and it is a pleasure being a hero and role model to you and to millions of others.

      Yours in Christ,

      Jean-Claude

      November 17, 2013 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rock Reynolds

    I am IMPRESSED.
    I don't care how contrived.

    November 17, 2013 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Danlien

    That's two D.U.I's in one right there.

    November 17, 2013 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
  16. Booya

    It hurts my left nut just watching this.

    November 17, 2013 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  17. Chris

    If this was real, I strongly suspect there must have been some safety equipment that has been digitally removed.

    November 16, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      Van Damme is wearing an "invisible" rig attached to the tractor-trailor (right truck). The cable is small enough not to be seen by the camera, but would support his weight and keep him from smashing into the pavement below if he fell.

      The mirrors, according to the Wall Street Journal report, were modified to add a platform for his feet.

      November 17, 2013 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  18. Ryan

    It's real. That's why those lines are painted on the ground. The trucks follow them to sure they remain the correct distance apart.

    November 16, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan

      No, I think not. the film is being played backwards They started out close together( this part is not shown), moved apart, then came back together at the end of the run...where the film as it is presented began.

      November 17, 2013 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • My.Butters

      Dan, think before you talk. The ENTIRE purpose of this commercial was to show that the trucks could drive in reverse with this measure of accuracy.

      November 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Chuck Norris

    Not impressed , I could have done the split on one leg .

    November 16, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  20. robjh1

    Man look at what drugs and alcohol did to his face. All the best Jean.

    November 16, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  21. RegularAnomoly

    I watched this clip over and over on YouTube...I thought it might be fake too, until I noticed JCVD's foot adjustemt. Just before the camera sweeps to the side, JCVD moves his right foot slightly to gain better footing. To me the = no fake. Could it? Yes, but not likely. Watch for it.

    November 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  22. David

    It is cool.

    November 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  23. JimmyBoston

    Filmed at very slow speeds, a crawl, and then sped up to make it look superhuman?

    November 16, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      The trucks are driving slowly backwards, yes.

      Film is normal speed.

      November 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  24. VanDammeFan

    It looks like it started with him doing the splits and then drove forward ....... the recording is backwards. Imagine driving those trucks with the trailer backwards... how did it stay straight.

    November 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      The tractor-trailer on the right is driving backwards. The whole point of the stunt is to demonstrate how accurately straight the truck can back up with a trailer.

      The truck on the left is a box truck. As such, it is the only truck that makes the ever-so-slight turn to the left causing the trucks to separate. Without the trailer to worry about, it just needs to maintain the appropriate distance from the semi.

      November 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Embry

      Volvo trucks are the best trucks out there. The drivers are both probably million plus mile drivers, the ultimate in professionals. The semi tractor and trailer were also new so that made the backing in a straight line so much easier. But even a Volvo 660 tractor with 150,000 and a trailer that is 5 years old and has been bounced over curbs can be backed with ease with the steering in one of those Volvos. I back one in a straight line for a quarter mile at about 10-15 mph over a quarter mile at night. It freaked out my boss who was a Freightliner fan but drove the Volvo tractors too.

      November 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      That makes a lot of sense.

      November 16, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • facepalm

      /facepalm

      "This test was set up to demonstrate the stability of Volvo Dynamic Steering" at 1:04 in the clip.

      Driving backwards is the entire point of the commercial.

      November 17, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • govandals

      That is the entire point – to demonstrate the precision steering of the trucks. Going forward wouldn't demonstrate anything unusual.

      Do some research folks. JCVD, the director, and Volvo have all stated that it is real, it was done in one take, and the only safety equipment is a wire attaching him to one of the trucks in case he fell. Feet aren't attached (what a bad idea THAT would be if something went wrong). If he went down, he would still likely be injured, but at least he wouldn't smash his head open.

      Props to JC.

      November 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  25. M.A.P.

    I imagine him carrying me with his thighs whilst walking on his hands, through the dirtiest, darkest darkroom this side of the big pond.

    November 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Michael

    I dont buy it. The insurance for such a stunt would be prohibitive.

    November 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      The stunt coordinators are called professionals for a reason.

      As stated in the Wall Street Journal article, Van Damme was harnessed to the semi with an "invisible" rig. Both trucks had platforms built onto their mirrors for him to stand upon and support his weight–unmodified standard mirrors would not support his body.

      November 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  27. davis@bwana.endjunk.com

    Chuck Norris can inflate a truck tire by blowing into the stem.

    November 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  28. jeff

    You know its fake... its van damn.

    November 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Sad

    The shadows don't even match the low hanging sun direction....

    November 16, 2013 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      Are you referring to the "dark" shadow between the two trucks? As in, the shadow is sideways instead of directly in front of the truck since the sun is behind them?

      That's an optical illusion.

      The shadow between the trucks is the shadow of the left truck. The sun is not directly behind the trucks, but low on the horizon to the back left–casting a long shadow of the left truck towards the front right of the camera frame. The right truck has the same shadow.

      "But the shadow between the trucks is darker! How can one shadow be darker than another?"

      Again, it's an optical illusion.

      You are comparing a dark spot to the bright sun spot on the side of the right truck and that sunlight reflecting off the right truck onto the body of the left truck. There is no bright spot over the right truck's shadow, so it blends in with the gray pavement.

      Don't believe it? Stop the video when you see both trucks in full frame. Hold a sheet of thick paper across the bumpers of both trucks, hiding the top of the video frame. Now, compare the shadows–both are the same shade.

      It is just an optical illusion. The truck shadows (both of them) are in the correct position throughout the entire video.

      November 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Tyson

      He was a legit kickboxing champion when he was younger... Unlike guys like Seagal

      November 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Austinroth

    Those who guessed they filmed it going forward, i.e., he started in the splits position, and the trucks slowing came together while driving forward, then they ran the film backwards for the commercial are correct.

    Additionally, you can see that his left foot has a brace attaching him to the truck, while the right leg does not have the same bracing. This would allow him to quickly release from one truck, while remaining attached to the other, in case it was needed.

    Still a very impressive stunt, and all those 'tricks' are not tricks, but proof that indeed these were professionals doing this, as professionals do not take unnecessary risks.

    November 16, 2013 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Omar B.

      Agreed, also only one truck really separates. If you notice the lines on the road,its only when a third one start appearing that the truck goes to the side and the camera goes back and slightly changes its angle of viewresulting you thinking that both trucks actually do separate. Still Pretty amazing nonetheless

      November 16, 2013 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      The trucks are driving backwards, because that kind of accuracy is the essence of the new steering system Volvo developed.

      The split is done the way it was filmed (in one take), however he was secured by lines in case he would fall. Those lines were then removed while editing.

      More info can be found in the following link:

      http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/11/15/how-volvo-created-the-jean-claude-van-damme-video/

      November 16, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  31. SteveInMN

    Federer didn't serve the can off that guy's head.

    Van Damme didn't do the splits between two trucks.

    Their is no Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus.

    Bad day, I know. Sorry!

    November 16, 2013 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  32. dc3gal

    It's cool to watch but I don't believe it.

    November 16, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  33. Glenn

    He's amazing to be in that kind of shape, and to pull off that kind of stunt at any age, let alone 52. However, like any good trick, there is always a method to the madness. I am an amateur magician – and there are hundreds of tricks, when performed, absolutely blow your mind. But when you know the very clever secret, the magic is gone and you are far less impressed. I think that is what is going on here. The split is, no doubt real, and amazing in and of itself. But the risking his life part is probably not as impressive if you knew the methodology. I don't think he would risk his life for the 50k they probably paid him.

    November 16, 2013 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  34. Godspeed

    Actually, if you look at the lugs on the truck wheels they appear to be turning counter-clockwise, which is the wrong direction if the trucks are going backwards. In addition, even a professional driver would struggle to drive a truck backwards at speed without weaving. It's still an incredible stunt, but the trucks were almost certainly moving forward during the taping and then reversed for the ad.

    November 16, 2013 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      So, you say the trucks are driving forward because the lugs are turning counter-clockwise (i.e. opposite the direction of travel). If that were the case, then the wheels would be going clockwise with the trucks driving forwards (i.e. opposite the direction of travel).

      November 16, 2013 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • dbarak

      Hi Godspeed,

      I'm not disputing your contention that they reversed the video footage, it's entirely possible. However, the odd wheel rotation you mentioned isn't a clue – here's why:

      If the wheels were rotating opposite the way you'd expect, either the trucks would be being towed against the force of the tires (resulting in a lot of smoke, I'd guess). If the trucks were moving under their own power, regardless of direction, the wheels would move in the appropriate direction whether the footage was reversed or not.

      What you're seeing is what I think could be called phase shifting, in this case an optical illusion. Let's say the camera was recording the shot at 24 frames per second, and for ease of illustration, let's say the wheels have 1 lug nut each. If the wheel is rotating at 24 rotations per second, or 48, 72, 96, etc., all multiples of 24, the lug nut will be in the same position every time the camera exposes a frame. If the wheel is rotating at 24 and the camera is shooting at 24, the wheel has made one revolution between frames. If the wheel is rotating at 48, then it's spun around twice between frames, etc. If the phase is locked in this case, it looks like the wheel isn't turning. If the wheel spins slightly faster in one direction, the lug nut will be slightly ahead of where it was previously; if the wheel spins slightly slower in one direction, the lug nut will be slightly behind where it was previously, all regardless of the number of revolutions made between frames.

      So what you're seeing in the video, at least as far as the wheel rotation is concerned, is an optical illusion.

      November 16, 2013 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Wheels going the wrong direction

      "Actually, if you look at the lugs on the truck wheels they appear to be turning counter-clockwise, which is the wrong direction if the trucks are going backwards."

      Optical illusion. Watch old cowboy movies with a stagecoach. The wheels appear to be moving in the wrong backwards while the coach is moving forward. Just watch the stagecoach in the movie "Stagecoach". It even has a name, it is called the 'stagecoach-wheel effect".

      November 16, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aimhere

      Godspeed,

      dbarak is correct about the phase-shifting. There is a mismatch between the rotation rate of the wheels and the frame rate of the video camera. The wheels appear to be rotating counter-clockwise, but in reality they are moving clockwise. They just haven't moved far enough between one video frame and the next for each lug nut to have moved all the way to where the next one in line had been in the previous video frame, presenting the appearance that all the lug nuts moved in the opposite direction.

      You'll see this sort of thing in any car/truck commercial where the vehicle is moving above a certain speed. In fact for every vehicle/wheel/camera combination, there is a certain road speed where the wheels will actually appear to be perfectly stationary. (But this is rarely captured on video.)

      November 17, 2013 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  35. sheldon

    Insanitary? Really?

    November 16, 2013 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  36. Priest

    If you notice when it starts his shirt tail is waving in the wind.

    The only way that happens if the wind is from THE FRONT

    His body, at that low speed, would otherwise block the wind and there would be no movement if going backwards

    Its made to impress, but FAKE

    November 16, 2013 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel H

      you're full of c**p and don't know a thing about the changing movements and velocities of wind. How dare you insult the man by calling it fake, you fat loud-mouthed couch potato.

      November 16, 2013 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • The6thSense

      It is call drag. Much to learn you have. You need to get out more

      November 16, 2013 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • The6thSense

      With all the crazy stunts Jean Claude has done, there is no need to fake this out. He is still fit and unlike most 53 year old men, he is in great shape and I am sure he can kick your butt if you were to tell him that in his face.

      November 16, 2013 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      So, if they are driving forwards, inducing his shirt to flap into the wind instead of being pressed against his waist, can you explain why his pant legs flap forward into the wind?

      November 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      Also, if they were driving forward, his shirt front would billow with the wind blowing down into his open collar.

      November 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  37. alanauer

    How did he get back up?

    November 16, 2013 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • rick

      Did any one notice he was going in reverse? Computers can do some amazing things these days. I'm sure with a name like his, he was in no danger.

      November 16, 2013 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • KlintzCNN

      Probably the same way he went down into the splits–the left box truck steered right and closed the distance between the trucks.

      Van Damme was harnessed to the right tractor-trailer, so if he fell, he would not hit the pavement.

      November 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Mike

    Awesome Ego.

    This is for you shidoshi!

    November 16, 2013 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  39. NooYawkah

    I've seen characters in video games that looked more realistic than Van Damme looks here. If they're driving backwards why are his eyes closed? There's no wind blowing in his face. I call bogus.

    November 16, 2013 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      While he doesn't look like he did 30 years ago, he looks good at 53. As far as his eyes being closed....I see it as him concentrating and then just opening them. I never thought it had anything to do with the wind. I guess just different interpretations.

      November 16, 2013 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • rick

      Did you also notice the driver on the left is driving on the right?

      November 16, 2013 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Zap Ruder

      If you look closely, you'll see there's a second gunman on the grassy knoll.

      November 16, 2013 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  40. rcjank0

    This is impressive. It's the Go Daddy ads that creep me out!

    November 16, 2013 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  41. maddbearfan

    Ya gotta know some fool is gonna try this and wind up being roadkill.

    November 16, 2013 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
  42. Mary

    It would be so easy for Jean-Claude to pass gas in that position.

    November 16, 2013 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  43. NYC Gal

    Wow! Great Job! Congratulations to Jean-Claude Van Damm for an amazing job!! (as always!!) And congratulations to the entire ad agency group/crew who worked on this spot!! I was nervous just watching this!! And, those two Volvo Truck Drivers!!!! Wow!! Fantastic Driving Ability!! No Easy Task, to be sure!!! You all Rock!! (Of course, I'd prefer to tell this to Jean-Claude in person, over lunch, in NYC, but until then....YOU ROCK! ) :) Amazing, great job EVERYBODY!!!

    November 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Bans Lex Luther

    Amazing

    November 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Dirt-Clod God Damme

    YeeeeeHAAAAAAAAA!!!! Lookit this, ya'll!

    November 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  46. maria

    Still good at what he does best

    November 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Dave

    I'm pretty sure he started from a split position and went to standing then they showed the film backwards. Still Impressive for the time cop.

    November 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Panel457

      No, they were going in reverse. There are a couple of "making of" type shorts for this stunt on the internet, and they were going in reverse.

      November 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • shawn

      Yes the Volvo trucks are going in reverse. see the bottom corners of van damne' shirt corners flap in front.
      if the trucks were moving forward they would not have flapped forward, rather pressed against his body pressed by wind. So yes he did the stunt as shown.

      November 16, 2013 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  48. padric2

    What does this have to do with this article? Seriously.

    November 16, 2013 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  49. That's one of the blog hog hacker trolls

    Just report abuse on all their nonsense, and help keep the blog clean.

    November 16, 2013 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  50. SeanOg

    I think the film is unedited based on the WSJ report; it was not fild with the truck driving forwards and played in reverse as some have suggested. These are box-trucks that are all in one piece, so it's not that hard. If they were semi-trailers, then that would be a different story. You can see the drivers only look in their mirrors, not ahead, the whole time. The WSJ reports that they had some rigging that isn't visible so he wouldn't fall, which is fine. Still an impressive stunt.

    November 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  51. KlintzCNN

    @SeanOg: The left truck is a box truck. The right truck is indeed a tractor and trailer.

    Notice that it is only the box truck that steers away–the semi just backs in a straight line (turning the wheel would cause the trailer to turn in the opposite direction). The box truck can turn ever so slightly without having to worry about a trailer.

    Still, it is quite impressive that the Volvo tractor-trailer can back in an exacting straight line over such a long distance.

    November 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |

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