Video: Jean-Claude Van Dammmmmnnnn

posted at 6:43 pm on November 15, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

I could try to shoehorn this into a political metaphor, but why mess with perfection on a Friday evening? Ace posed a pertinent question— Just who is this ad targeting? Erika Johnsen and I aren’t in the habit of buying Volvo 18-wheelers, but I think it speaks to the precision of Volvo steering, in general. And, if not, score one for brand recognition. And, Jean-Claude’s hammies. Yikes!

Update: A little bit of the how’d-they-do-that? Apparently, in one take.

Part of Volvo Trucks’ “Crazy Stunts With Our Trucks” promotional campaign, this effort was apparently the first time JCVD had attempted his trademark stretch between two semis moving in reverse — and for those who doubt, Volvo maintains there’s no computer-generated trickery or reverse filming underway. (That it demonstrates “Volvo Dynamic Steering” more than the awesomeness of the muscles from Brussels can and will be argued by future generations, but do note that the trailer on the semis stay straight while backing up.)

To pull it off, Volvo commandeered a closed airport in Spain and waited for sunrise. Van Damme, being Van Damme, needed only one take to make it work.

And, though Van Damme gets the moment in the sun, here, I’ve tried to back a trailer before so all the kudos on Earth to the truck drivers (or computers?).

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john boehner?

renalin on November 15, 2013 at 6:52 PM

The man has YEARS of ballet training…

ladyingray on November 15, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Backwards!

Logus on November 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Is the tape backwards ??

rik on November 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Suddenly, I noticed that my mouth was open as wide as it could open. True dat.

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Backwards! Logus on November 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

So what!?! Either way, he still had to get to that point!

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Forward would have been impressive. Backward is awesome!

Kafir on November 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Morrissey used to do that all the time between two ships on Cap’s Quarters.

Rovin on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Is the tape backwards ??

rik on November 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Could be, I thought I heard “Paul is dead”.

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

It doesn’t seem plausible.
When you have to maintain as certain amount of pressure in order to keep your body weight supported, and you’re in a full split, a variation of maybe 1/4 inch could cause the laws of physics to dominate and you fall. If this is legit, the real skill in with the truck drivers.

Mimzey on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Morrissey used to do that all the time between two ships on Cap’s Quarters. Rovin on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

And they were going in different directions… this is still awesome though. Not as awesome as Morrisey, but still.

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Perspective comes to mind when comparing how he looks now to how he looked in his kick **s days. My how time flies! Of course, I haven’t changed a bit………

LeftCoastRight on November 15, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Do…not…try…this…at…home.

Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Bigfoot on November 15, 2013 at 7:00 PM

If this is legit, the real skill in with the truck drivers. Mimzey on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Or the computers operating the trucks. Takes nothing away from Jean Claude.

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

If Van Dam tried that on Oregon highways, he’d be ripped in half from the pot holes.

portlandon on November 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Morrissey used to do that all the time between two ships on Cap’s Quarters.

Rovin on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Yeah, me too, between two bulls. A piece of cake.

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

good for him

rob verdi on November 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Or the computers operating the trucks. Takes nothing away from Jean Claude.

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Volvo’s computer driving hasn’t always been great……

portlandon on November 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM

You think he started out split and the trucks came together the reversed the vid?? I used to drive hay trailers when I was a kid and it would be impossible to hold that track in reverse.

rik on November 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Or the computers operating the trucks. Takes nothing away from Jean Claude.

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Could be. Going backwards would be a safety advantage for Van Damme. If he fell he might be clear of the trucks wheels in less time.

Mimzey on November 15, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Jean Claude van Daaayyyuummm!

Suddenly, I feel the urge to go order an 18 wheel Volvo.
…and spend more time at the gym.

orangemtl on November 15, 2013 at 7:05 PM

I did that once.
I tore my pants.

NeoKong on November 15, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Nothing like an early morning stretch.

rbj on November 15, 2013 at 7:08 PM

He stands before us with freakishly long legs.

Not saying that there are tricks involved but proportions are way off.

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2013 at 7:09 PM

If Van Dam tried that on Oregon highways, he’d be ripped in half from the pot holes.

portlandon on November 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Why do you need highways? Are not you all flying on your own wings now?

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2013 at 7:11 PM

How will cozmo react?

Will his reaction be similar to ‘The Ultimate Squirrel!!!’?

Resist We Much on November 15, 2013 at 7:17 PM

You think he started out split and the trucks came together the reversed the vid?? I used to drive hay trailers when I was a kid and it would be impossible to hold that track in reverse.

rik on November 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM

We drive trailers all the time at the ranch, and the only way you could hold a track in reverse is if the trailer were somehow locked in place on the hitch, which I suspect the trailers were here. That said, even on a perfect surface, here they were on runway, it would be almost impossible to maintain a straight line in reverse. Maybe that’s what the Volvo Dynamic Steering on these rigs is all about, certainly computerized and synced.

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 7:23 PM

I want one of those trucks.

SailorMark on November 15, 2013 at 7:25 PM

You think he started out split and the trucks came together the reversed the vid??

rik on November 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Meant to respond to your question first. Anyway, that’s how they had to do it.

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 7:26 PM

Gearheads will enjoy some of the technical explanation videos that are thumbnailed after JCVD’s is done. The dynamic steering keeps the wheels straight, and the steering wheel unjostled, until the driver applies a direction change. I’m sure they shot the promo backing up because any fleet operator would recognize that it’s much much harder to keep the truck straight when backing, especially at speed. JCVD’s trick is probably equally difficult on trucks or two planks, but the cojones required have got to be geometrically larger in the air and on the move… (uhh, not sure that last part came out right…)

twgriff on November 15, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Is the tape backwards ??

rik on November 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Could be, I thought I heard “Paul is dead”.

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

That’s “cranberry sauce”… they obviously planned this for a Thanksgiving marketing push.

malclave on November 15, 2013 at 7:28 PM

I want one of those trucks.

SailorMark on November 15, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Here you go.
http://www.volvotrucks.com/trucks/sweden-market/sv-se/Pages/Home.aspx

TX-eye on November 15, 2013 at 7:30 PM

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 7:23 PM

the truck on the left is def strait i.e. no trl.
the truck on the right looks like it has a tag axle therfore may not be a semi.
they painted a dashed line on the left which the driver just has to hold the tires on the line. the one on the right is a solid line.
I could do this with my old 1966 Autocar rig up truck. 300″ wheel base while carrying a 80,000 pound pump. Don’t think JCVD could stand on the mirror though.
In all honesty very impressive.

Fred

jrsrigmvr on November 15, 2013 at 7:32 PM

If Van Dam tried that on Oregon highways, he’d be ripped in half from the pot holes.

portlandon on November 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Wait, there are shovel-ready jobs still?

Eastwood Ravine on November 15, 2013 at 7:34 PM

The only skill Van Dam has is this. He does it in his movies. He did it in some other commercial, just without the trucks.

KMav on November 15, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Could they have started with his legs spread and drove the trucks closer together until his is standing – like it is at the start.

Then they could have just edited the thing backwards to make it look like the split was at the end…

A little John Lennon trickery circa 2013 on video?

zdpl0a on November 15, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Here is another cool Volvo truck stunt.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N87uxyDQT0

TX-eye on November 15, 2013 at 7:38 PM

shout out to “Enya” while we are out it.

rob verdi on November 15, 2013 at 7:38 PM

He stands before us with freakishly long legs.

Not saying that there are tricks involved but proportions are way off.

Happy Nomad on November 15, 2013 at 7:09 PM

I just figured it out……you don’t believe in Santa do you HN?

Rovin on November 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 7:23 PM

What part of TX are you from? I was raised in Yantis

rik on November 15, 2013 at 7:45 PM

I can’t get one leg straight like that, much less two.
.
.
.
.
Nor do I want to try, so, it’s all good!

ExpressoBold on November 15, 2013 at 7:52 PM

One take? Of course, because if the first takes fails, you have no more JCVD for Take Two.

Awesome, though!

Who is John Galt on November 15, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Van Damme is not a big guy.. The lens has a bit of fisheye in it. But he is an awesome athlete.

CrazyGene on November 15, 2013 at 7:58 PM

I drove a Volvo tractor in ’06. I liked it better than any of the other trucks I drove.

davidk on November 15, 2013 at 8:07 PM

http://www.volvotrucks.com/trucks/uk-market/en-gb/trucks/volvo-fm/key-features/Pages/volvo-dynamic-steering.aspx

When reversing:
Perfect control without strain.

Reversing with a fully laden truck is one of the most challenging and trying aspects of the job. Especially where you need to focus every bit of your attention on the surroundings. Not so with Volvo Dynamic Steering. You now reverse with perfect precision – almost without effort. And as soon as you let go of the wheel, it automatically returns to neutral, reducing the strain even further.

Furthermore, if you need to reverse long distances, here’s something new. The course stability is so great that you can reverse a truck and trailer more than a hundred metres without drifting off course.

thats pretty damned useful

dmacleo on November 15, 2013 at 8:17 PM

thats pretty damned useful

dmacleo on November 15, 2013 at 8:17 PM

I wonder how it would do when trying to back a 53′ trailer into an old warehouse designed for 48′ trailers.

I had to do that with a load of newsprint at an old newspaper publisher. It took me about 20 minutes.

When I got to my company’s terminal I had this old grizzled driver tell me that he refuses loads to that company.

davidk on November 15, 2013 at 8:37 PM

BTW, I’ve never been in a situation where I had to back a rig 100 yards. Backing in between two trucks at a truck stop for the night is where “the rubber meets the road.”

davidk on November 15, 2013 at 8:39 PM

One take from a guy whose heart popped a few months ago? Props!

LaughterJones on November 15, 2013 at 8:46 PM

The dude’s bi. I used to have a girlfriend who worked at a well-known restaurant, which was also well-known for its celebrity customers, who had a male co-worker who’d had a threesome with this guy and his wife at the time. Apparently his thing, at least at that time, was he and his wife would pick up bi guys and have threesomes. It wasn’t just this one co-worker of hers either, it was well-known among all the celebrity groupies that this was his thing.

What can you do? The dude’s Belgian

WhatSlushfund on November 15, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Is the tape backwards ??

rik on November 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Could be, I thought I heard “Paul is dead”.

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

ROFLMAO!!!!

tim c on November 15, 2013 at 9:02 PM

another article I read said that the creators admit they digitally removed some “safety equipment” but that JCVD really did the stunt, supporting his own weight in one take. I suppose there was some kind of safety tether on his back just in case but that it wasn’t necessary.

Im.press.ive

pecan pie on November 15, 2013 at 9:04 PM

JCVD 1, Steven Segal 0

HopeHeFails on November 15, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Enya, Van Damme, and a couple of Volvo freight trucks riding off into the sunset.

I just can’t shake the weird.

NorthernCross on November 15, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Just who is this ad targeting?

Enya loving truckers.

Duh.

rihar on November 15, 2013 at 9:31 PM

You think he started out split and the trucks came together the reversed the vid??

rik on November 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Meant to respond to your question first. Anyway, that’s how they had to do it.

TXUS on November 15, 2013 at 7:26 PM

Volvo maintains there’s no computer-generated trickery or reverse filming underway. (That it demonstrates “Volvo Dynamic Steering”

Solaratov on November 15, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Notwithstanding the dancer, dancing.

Every one knows who this guy is and what he does for money.

Few know of the reason Sgt. Jerry Michael Shriver got the nick name “Mad Dog”, or know of who or what he did.

More than spread his legs for money.

But then 51% of Americans voted for Obama and 48% voted for the traitor John F. Kerry.

We are what we are I am sorry to admit.

We will be judged.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Apologies that, being a girl – well, an old woman – I don’t know the correct names of vehicles’ wheel/tire parts, so please bear with me on that. Car-dumb – but observant.
In car commercials: when the car is moving forward on the road, the wheel – the center, shiney part the tire is mounted to – appears to be spinning backwards. The wheel is obviously turning/spinning forward, because the car is – but that “mount” center portion for some optical-illusion reason seems to be turning in the opposite direction of the tire itself.

In this video, after the 1 minute mark, the wheels/tires are visible. It’s a small picture – try hitting the full screen option, and you will see that the wheels’ shiney center parts appear to be turning in a forward direction – which means the tires are turning in the opposite direction. And that means the trucks ARE moving in reverse gear.

GGMac on November 15, 2013 at 10:54 PM

The dude’s bi.
WhatSlushfund on November 15, 2013 at 8:56 PM

So that many more people can enjoy him. I’d rather have JCVD than a Volvo truck.

talkingpoints on November 15, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Hmmm…does he do websites?

KirknBurker on November 15, 2013 at 11:47 PM

Is this an inadvertent plug for the continued use of Cocaine? Just wondering.

AYNBLAND on November 16, 2013 at 1:20 AM

They should’ve saved this for a Super Bowl commercial

LurkerDood on November 16, 2013 at 2:34 AM

Only reason JCVD was able to do this was because Chuck Norris was driving… Both trucks

Raquel Pinkbullet on November 16, 2013 at 3:02 AM

GGMac on November 15, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Coming from a middle aged car dude, I would say the girl – well, an old woman – I don’t know the correct names of vehicles’ wheel/tire parts, so please bear with me on that. Car-dumb – but observant pretty much has it.

BillH on November 16, 2013 at 3:04 AM

Apologies that, being a girl – well, an old woman – I don’t know the correct names of vehicles’ wheel/tire parts, so please bear with me on that. Car-dumb – but observant.
In car commercials: when the car is moving forward on the road, the wheel – the center, shiney part the tire is mounted to – appears to be spinning backwards. The wheel is obviously turning/spinning forward, because the car is – but that “mount” center portion for some optical-illusion reason seems to be turning in the opposite direction of the tire itself.

In this video, after the 1 minute mark, the wheels/tires are visible. It’s a small picture – try hitting the full screen option, and you will see that the wheels’ shiney center parts appear to be turning in a forward direction – which means the tires are turning in the opposite direction. And that means the trucks ARE moving in reverse gear.

GGMac on November 15, 2013 at 10:54 PM

That happens because video is a series of still frames played in sequence, which seems like a “duh” when you first say it, but that means that at certain rates of revolution, and at certain frame rates, rotating objects can appear to be spinning the wrong way.

Nice observation to note the difference, but it could also mean that the frame rate vs RPM weren’t lined up in such a way to make it look backwards. That isn’t quite definitive.

What is, is the effect of airflow on his shirt.

PXCharon on November 16, 2013 at 4:51 AM

Here are two different YouTube videos with behind-the-scenes material: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn1F-lzoP08 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gq2B_DyRAc

JCVD’s trick is probably equally difficult on trucks or two planks, but the cojones required have got to be geometrically larger in the air and on the move… (uhh, not sure that last part came out right…)

I’d still rather be JCVD than the drivers. Van Damme “just” has to concentrate, do his thing and trust that the drivers have his back. The driver to his right (our left) has to try not to think about the fact that if he makes one tiny mistake while turning in reverse he’s killed Jean-Claude Van Damme. He’s actually driving a rigid-body truck (the other truck is articulated, but “only” drives straight back) but he still has probably the most skilled and mentally toughest job in the stunt, I think.

Both trucks have a spotter in the passenger’s seat too.

anonymous irishman on November 16, 2013 at 7:34 AM

Very impressive.
(Amazing all the comments here filled with snide remarks trying to poo-poo this away.)

albill on November 16, 2013 at 7:56 AM

Raquel Pinkbullet on November 16, 2013 at 3:02 AM

Love it!

notropis on November 16, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Actually, the other Volvo Live Test videos are well worth watching too.

anonymous irishman on November 16, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Don’t know what the big hoopla is over, I do this every day. Just a few minutes ago I stepped over my sleeping Daschund and for a few minutes there it came close to disaster…but I pulled it through.

Renee on November 16, 2013 at 8:14 AM

IDK if I should feel strange that I have that Enya album.
And we used to have a Volvo semi.
A great running truck. Then we traded for a 2000 Pete & never looked back.

Badger40 on November 16, 2013 at 8:16 AM

I’m wondering if maybe Volvo should have used Scarlett Johansson instead….

~Knave

Renee on November 16, 2013 at 8:26 AM

I’d rather have JCVD than a Volvo truck.

talkingpoints on November 15, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Not sure that the commercial was trying to convey that those were the only two options, but if so, I’ll take the Volvo.

WhatSlushfund on November 16, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Darned impressive!

One minor point. It appears that the truck on the left is not a semi, but a single body van. But even one semi tracking straight back is quite a feat.

new2wnc on November 16, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I wonder how it would do when trying to back a 53′ trailer into an old warehouse designed for 48′ trailers.

I had to do that with a load of newsprint at an old newspaper publisher. It took me about 20 minutes.

When I got to my company’s terminal I had this old grizzled driver tell me that he refuses loads to that company.

davidk on November 15, 2013 at 8:37 PM

can’t see where it would help much there, perhaps the auto centering may help, but so much wheel movement in short time there its most likely useless. + the jack knife parking would negate this.
expect this is made more for narrow roads where there is no turn arounds (many in germany like that) where trucks have to back long ways in. actually my private road here like that and when neighbor brought his 53′ home overnight had to back in 1k feet or so.

dmacleo on November 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Well, that gives Putin a new target to shoot for.

PersonFromPorlock on November 16, 2013 at 11:49 AM

I believe JCVD is a Conservative too…

LurkerDood on November 16, 2013 at 5:27 PM