PHOTO MOMENT: Is Putin giving Van Damme a stunt-run for his (Volvo) money?

Vijay Shah

A recent advert by Swedish motor vehicle manufacturer Volvo has practically set the internet alight, being shared countless times across social platforms and becoming the talk of cyber town. One of the best attempts at both standard TV advertising and viral marketing in recent years has already clocked up nearly 50 million views on YouTube alone.  The slickly-made advertisement, made to showcase the stability and precision of Volvo’s new “Dynamic Steering”element, features Belgian action man Jean-Claude Van Damme. With his arms firmly crossed and his mouth delivering a monologue to camera in that unmistakable Flemish accent, Van Damme fearlessly does the splits between two reversing trucks bracing at a comfortable speed down a closed-off desert road.

Jaws drop as wide as Van Damme’s legs stretch apart, and those same legs are eventually completely horizontal as he is perched precariously on the lorries’ wing mirrors, while the viewers’ astonishment is accompanied by the melodious soundtrack of Enya’s “Only Time“.

But it’s a competitive world out there in adland. Whenever someone gets a over-stuffed suitcase of money from an ad agency to push the televised stunt bar to stratospheric heights, there’s always someone else who has to jump in and push the bar even higher…literally.

Step aside Van Damme. Meet Vladimir Putin. President of Russia, quintessential macho man, keen hunter, dictator-in-the-making, West’s bogeyman of the month (since 2000)…and now…super stuntsman and future father of a thousand internet memes. A picture has begun showing up on Twitter showing Putin straddling the wings of two military fighter jets high above over what appears to be Moscow. If this doesn’t put the wind up Washington, then nothing will.

Here is the Russian Federation’s answer to the Van Damme commercial (as shared by @yamphoto and @DaliaEzzat_ ) :-

(c)9GAG.com

The picture was sourced from 9GAG.com, an online gallery of funny pictures and content, so we can safely assume that despite Putin’s self-described awesomeness, this stunt was more of the Photoshop variety than the “I am the Man!!!” at 10,000 feet variety.

Death-defying sky-warrior he probably isn’t, but Russia’s leader has proved his mettle in more ground-based pursuits (with the help of a well-oiled PR machine and sympathetically doe-eyed news editors). He landed in the war-torn capital of Chechnya, Grozny’, in 2000 flying in a Su-27 fighter jet, despite risk of assassination by Chechen separatists; he has created a tough, outdoorsy, hard man image in the media and takes frequent trips to the harsh tundra of Siberia to angle for fish; he is said to be adept at martial arts, driving racing cars and scuba-diving. Russia’s superman is not without his controversies however. Vladimir Putin has also come under fire for dominating the political sphere in Russia, dragging the country back to Soviet-style rule;  and is considered responsible, or at least taking a blind eye to, the persecution of political opponents, religious minorities and most recently, LGBT Russians.

Looks like JC’s claim to stuntmanship fame is safe for now.

The Volvo ad with Jean-Claude Van Damme and two heavily-built Globetrotters:

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SOURCES/IMAGE CREDITS:
Vijay Shah { विजय } on Twitter LINK
Marcus Yam on Twitter LINK
Dalia Ezzat on Twitter LINK
“Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split feat. Van Damme (Live Test 6)” – Volvo Trucks, YouTube GB LINK
“About 9GAG” – 9GAG LINK
“Vladimir Putin” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK

 

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