There must be something in the air now that Hong Kong people have cast aside their protective face masks. Sex has suddenly become a hot topic for local filmmakers but not in a furtive, Category III kind of way. The current crop of saucy comedies are witty and modern and aimed at fans of Sex And The City rather than conn- oisseurs of Japanese porn. No doubt last year's hit comedy Golden Chicken - which cleverly told the history of Hong Kong through the eyes of an eccentric prostitute - has been a major inspiration. Earlier this summer we had Good Times, Bed Times, a sex farce about the relationship between an impotent policeman (played by Louis Koo Tin-lok) and a tabloid hack (Sammi Cheng Sau-man) who is sent to investigate him. Also testing the bed springs in the same movie were Lau Ching-wan as a licentious judge and Charlene Choi Tsoek-jin as the teenage Lolita who tempts him. Directed by Chan Hing-ka (La Brassiere, Mighty Baby), the film was daring but aimed at women, not dirty old men. It escaped a Category III rating in Hong Kong but not surprisingly was snipped by the censors in strait-laced Singapore. Currently on release is another comedy with risque subject matter, Mei Ah Entertainment's Men Suddenly In Black, starring Eric Tsang Chi-wai, Jordan Chan Siu-chun and Chapman To Man-chak. Directed by Edmond Pang Ho-cheung - a novelist- turned-director who wrote the book that Johnnie To Kei-fung's Fulltime Killer was based on - the film is about a group of men who set off on a marathon 14-hour brothel visit when their wives go on a trip to Thailand. Billed as more than just a sexy romp, the film mixes romance, action, parody and black humour. Scheduled for release next month is Ho Qing (Erotica), which like Golden Chicken, demonstrates that the sex industry is unlikely to go out of business during a recession. As with Good Times, Bed Times, the film is directed by Chan and stars Koo as a graduate who tries to publish textbooks but discovers that porn mags are much more profitable. Eason Chan Yik-shun also stars along with a bevy of beauties, including Cherrie Ying Choi-yi, Niki Chow Lai-kei, Denise Ho Wan-si and Josie Ho Chiu-yee. The film is expected to feature a scene in which Koo and Eason Chan are confronted with 100 naked women. Due to the large amounts of flesh on show, the producers are considering releasing two versions - one rated Category IIB and the other Category III. However, it is being sold as a comedy about young people succeeding in hard times - not just as a movie full of grun t and grind. Expect a dollop of serious social commentary mixed in with the G-strings. Never one to miss out on a trend, particularly where sex is concerned, prolific director- producer Wong Jing is shooting a Hong Kong version of the Sex And The City series - Sing Gum Doh Si (Sex And The Beauties). It will star Carina Lau Ka-ling, Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi, Athena Chu Yan and Yoyo Mung Ka-wai. Due to the calibre of the female cast, Wong said he took the greatest care in casting the male characters. Tony Leung Ka-fai, Andy Hui Chi-on and Edison Chen Koon-hei are among the lucky guys who get to wrestle with these four sex symbols. But which actress is going to play the Hong Kong version of Samantha? No doubt films such as these will be a comfort to those who fear that sex will disappear from movie screens now that Hong Kong filmmakers are focusing on the mainland market. Anyone trying to secure a mainland release for a film that features nudity, homosexuality or extra-marital affairs is likely to have difficulty. The producers of Ho Qing say they're preparing a separate version of their film for China with less nudity. Meanwhile, in a completely different vein, production started last week on In-laws, Outlaws, a Lunar New Year film about good, old-fashioned family values such as love, marriage and the drama that ensues when your son gets hitched to a foreigner. Directed by Clifton To Chi-sum, the film is a co-production between Hong Kong's Mandarin Films and two mainland companies - Guangdong Television Broadcasting and CC&E Communcations - and is based on a top-rated mainland TV series of the same name. The cast includes Eric Tsang, Shawn Yue Man-lok and Lydia Shum Tin-ha - the latter presumably playing a mother rather than a daughter- in-law.