Palestinians Spoof Volvo's 'Epic Split' Ad

Gazans put their own twist on the popular Van Damme ad.

ByABC News
December 8, 2013, 12:21 AM
A Palestinian comedy troupe parodied a viral Volvo advertisement that featured martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.
A Palestinian comedy troupe parodied a viral Volvo advertisement that featured martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Tashwesh Productions

Dec. 8, 2013— -- Palestinians in the Gaza Strip last week showed that Jean-Claude Van Damme isn't the only one who can do an "epic split," and are using a viral video to highlight Gaza's infrastructure issues.

A comedy troupe in the packed, poverty-ridden Palestinian territory on Thursday released a spoof of a viral Volvo advertisement that featured Van Damme, a Belgian martial artist and actor, doing a split between two moving trucks.

The Gazans put a Palestinian twist on the video, titled "The Epic Split," by replacing a monologue from Van Damme about his "ups and downs" and "body crafted to perfection" with a voiceover in Arabic that decries Gaza's poor infrastructure.

"The electricity cuts off for 12 hours," 28-year-old Mahmoud Zuiter, a member of Tashwesh Productions, says in the video, which has English subtitles. "The water turns on when the electricity cuts off. I miss taking a shower!"

In the Volvo ad, which has over 58 million, the camera zooms out to show Van Damme suspended between two trucks, which are driving parallel to each other, slowly move apart as the actor drops into a split.

In the spoof, Zuiter stands on the hoods of two Kia cars.

"All of this doesn't make Van Damme better than me," Zuiter says of the infrastructure problems. "But unfortunately, there is no gas in town."

The camera zooms out to show five men pushing the cars, and Zuiter lowers himself into a split of sorts.

Zuiter, a comedian from Gaza, told ABC News he and his colleagues hoped to use a lighthearted video to draw attention to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

"Van Damme is very famous, and millions of people like him," Zuiter said. "I made the video in the style of Van Damme, but I changed some of the things so that people would understand the suffering."

Pulling off the split took eight attempts, but with nearly 70,000 views as of Saturday -- and lots of Palestinians sharing the clip on social media -- Zuiter said the stunt was worth it. He said is group, which consists of five members from the Gazan cities Deir Al-Balah and Khan Younis, has performed stand-up and other comedy before, and he added that fans sometimes approach members of the group to take photos.

"In Gaza, we have talent and the youth are great, and their minds are very beautiful," Zuiter said, just before he said the electricity cut out in the Strip. "The blockade from Egypt and Israel don't help the youth of Gaza find opportunities and achieve their dreams."

The Gaza Strip, which is governed by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt since 2007.