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Van Damme’s Iconography Perfected

My desire to become a filmmaker all started with Bloodsport.  Watching Jean Claude Van Damme do the splits so effortlessly absolutely blew my young mind.  There was something so cinematic about the visual, especially as he incorporated into his signature jump spinning kick.  I wanted to make films that created that sense of awe I experienced for the viewer.


Van Damme is an awesome representation of the 80s-90s action star and action movie.  I grew up on films like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, The Predator (Check out this interesting video about how Van Damme went from being the Predator to being fired ).  They shaped my sense of cinema and the iconography of movie stars.  Now all of that is in a past as distant as the films of John Wayne.  Action films ain’t like they used to be in the Van Damme Days.

Now I have grown up and am more interested in seeing the new Terrence Malick picture than Van Damme’s straight to video fare.  The man has had many ups and downs, but has worked hard to reinvent himself.  Enter the Van Damme of JCVD.  If you haven’t seen that film, it’s kind of incredible.  It’s an imperfect study of the pain in Van Damme’s life (Much of it self inflicted) and a partially fictionalized account of an Ozymandias style story of how the mighty have fallen.

And now we are here.  November of 2013.  And just when everyone thought that Van Damme had shown us all he had to offer he blew me away again.  Watching him do the splits in this commercial recreates the same experience I had when I saw him do it the first time.  That’s why this commercial is so perfect.  It reminds us all why we fell in love with Jean Claude Van Damme in the first place.  Watching him do the splits is inherently cinematic.  And they have seamlessly incorporated the engineering feat of Volvo to make the stunt all the more impressive.  Bravo.  I may not purchase a Volvo truck, but I sure will think about it if I am ever faced with the decision to purchase an 18 wheeler.

-Chris McGilvray


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