Given that Battles Without Honor and Humanity marks the first installment in director Kinji Fukasaku's five-part Yakuza Papers series, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that the entire thing is almost completely incoherent. With dozens of characters introduced (and just as many killed) amid a flurry of violent confrontations, much of the film's 99-minute running time feels like set-up for future episodes in the series. The remainder of Battles Without Honor and Humanity is even more perplexing, with various names thrown about and referred to - and yet, the movie is rarely out-and-out boring. This is primarily thanks to Fukasaku's emphasis on over-the-top instances of violence, along with his energetic, enthusiastic sense of direction. Still, the lack of a cohesive storyline makes it virtually impossible to really get into the film - though it seems fairly obvious that the movie would improve after viewing the subsequent four installments.