I found out about this film from "Quick Change" with Bill Murray (1990). Both "Quick Change" and "Hold-Up" are film adaptations of "Quick Change" by Jay Cronley. But I'm not here for a history lesson.
"Hold-Up" is truly a comedy gem. Francis Veber serving as one of the script writers certainly helps this. Story-wise (I won't give any spoilers), the first act of the movie that takes place in the bank is almost the same as the remake movie. Both versions of the bank robbery are very fun to watch. What really makes "Hold-Up" stand out from the Bill Murray movie is the second act.
Although I love Bill Murray as an actor, I can firmly say that "Quick Change" was simply unbearable to watch. It gets old and stale after the bank robbery. The same thing happened to me when I tried reading the book. I suppose I can praise the makers of "Quick Change" for sticking close to the source material, but it won't help much if the book itself blows. And no matter how many celebrity cameos there are in that film, it doesn't help it.
"Hold-Up" shows us a lot more of the character's personalities. Kim Cattrall's portrayal as Lise shows us this demanding confident woman who makes her own choices in the end. In the original book and the second movie, she is simply the generic side-woman that "oos" and "ahhs" at the leading man. And speaking of leading man, Jean-Paul Belmondo pulls off an excellent Grimm, along with Guy Marchand as the sidekick (who plays the part of the sidekick with more dignity than Randy Quaid did). The late Tex Konig also gives a memorable performance as the truck driver who is desperate to get his dough, as well as an amusing cameo from Jacques Villert as the taxi driver. And it all ends with a wonderful and delightful twist!
The music is also less repetitive than the remake. This film does, however, use a musical snippet (Liza's Road) many times during the film, though cleverly played in different speeds and instruments; it achieves a continuous soundtrack that isn't typical 80's cop drama music played over and over and over again.
To make a long story short (too late), if you HAVEN'T seen "Hold-Up" - WATCH IT! Even if that means getting a region-free DVD player. It's WORTH IT! This film needs to get "out there" more!