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Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Epic Split is a video advertisement for the automobile manufacturer Volvo, in which actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme performs a straddle split while balancing between two large trucks in reverse drive. Upon its release in November 2013, the commercial instantly went viral on YouTube and inspired a series of parody videos featuring both live action and digitally manipulated variations of the stunt.
On November 13th, 2013, the Volvo Trucks YouTube channel uploaded a video titled “The Epic Split,” in which two Volvo Globetrotter trucks are shown driving parallel in reverse while slowly separating for Van Damme to perform a split between them (shown below). In the first two months, the video gained over 61.4 million views and 37,600 comments.
On November 14th, 2013, the commercial was submitted to the /r/movies subreddit, where it received more than 4,700 up votes and 580 comments. On November 16th, YouTuber Artjail VFX uploaded a parody video with Toronto mayor Rob Ford digitally edited into the original commercial (shown below, left), accumulating upwards of 2.4 million views and 640 comments in the following five weeks. On November 19th, model and actor Channing Tatum uploaded an epic split parody video as a promotion for his upcoming comedy film 22 Jumpstreet (shown below, right). In the next month, the video garnered more than 13.8 million views and 490 comments.
On the same day, the digital artist Mikey Borup uploaded an edited version of the commercial in which Van Damme’s legs stretch as if he were the character Dhalsim from the Street Fighter video game series. On December 18th, the Hungarian animation firm Delov Digital released a parody video featuring a digitally rendered Chuck Norris balancing between two jets with 11 soldiers on his shoulders (shown below, right), which garnered more than 5.9 million views and 14,400 comments in the first 48 hours.